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Legislator calls Pritzker a population denier after data show Chicago loses more


(The Center Square) – Annual Census estimates released Thursday show Illinois’ largest cities continuing to lose population. Gov. J.B. Pritzker again denied it.

When asked why he thinks the state’s major cities are losing population, Pritzker said the state gained population and the annual estimates calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau are wrong.

“The post enumeration survey determined that Illinois got undercounted even though we try to count every single person, but sometimes people are homeless and don’t get counted or some people are just hidden and hard to get to and they didn’t get counted,” Pritzker said. “So what did they determine from that? Illinois gained population. We have more than 13 million people in the state of Illinois.”

The Census page for Illinois shows the state’s population is 12.8 million, not “more than 13 million,” as Pritzker contents.

The 2020 post enumeration survey Pritzker mentioned did lead to the Census adding more people they missed in the original 2020 count. However, the Census reported Illinois lost 79,500, after approving the state’s request to include 46,400 Illinoisans. That still leaves a 2020 population loss of 33,100.

State Rep. Chris Miller, R-Oakland, called Pritzker a “population denier.”

“I think that it’s obvious we have been bleeding jobs, population and opportunity. I am shocked J.B. Pritzker is a population denier,” Miller told The Center Square. “How does he explain the fact that Illinois lost a Congressional seat? Does he think the federal government is lying to him?”

Illinois lost a seat in the U.S. House after the last Census count in 2020.

In a June 2021 news release, the governor’s office said Pritzker’s signing of new redistricting maps “also account for population changes in the state, particularly in the regions that saw the most population loss as recorded by U.S. Census’ American Community Survey.”

Pritzker signed what he called “fair maps” based on data he now says is “wrong.”

“It’s clear there’s something wrong with the ACS data. You should take what I am saying as truth, that actually when we count people … we’re gaining population,” Pritzker said Thursday.

Following population drops of nearly 40,000 in 2021 and 31,000 in 2022, Chicago’s population declined 8,208 in 2023, according to newly released annual Census data.

The U.S. Census Bureau in its “2023 City and Town Population Estimates” reports Chicago’s population loss of 8,208 was the nation’s third largest, behind New York and Philadelphia.

Since the last Census in 2020, Chicago has lost nearly 3% of its population.

“Well then 2021 came and here comes another ACS [American Community Survey] survey and it showed another year of population loss reported by this survey that had been inaccurate for the 10 years earlier and that survey hasn’t changed,” said Pritzker. “We went to the Census Bureau and told them how inaccurate this clearly is and they believed us and they looked at the cities … and they upped the population numbers.”

Miller said one of the biggest drivers for people fleeing the state is over-taxation.

“There’s a lot of easy answers to these problems, but the first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem. You have to admit your policies created this mess,” said Miller.

The Illinois GOP said in a news release that Illinois has lost 263,780 residents since 2020 and noted Pritzker called the numbers “fake news,” casting doubt on President Joe Biden’s U.S. Census Bureau.

“Illinois residents are fleeing the Prairie State as they run from Democrats socialistic policies, high taxes, a migrant crisis that continues to grow worse and high crime,” said ILGOP Chairman Don Tracy. “Illinois leaders like Pritzker are putting their heads in the sand and refusing to see the effects of their agenda. As long as Democrats claim Illinois as a Democrat utopia, more residents will continue to flee.”