I am in Chicago for the holiday and was struck by a recent report that shows that my native state is losing more people than any other state. It is a combination of factors to be sure but I have been critical of the politicians in Illinois (and particularly Chicago, my home town) for years in bankrupting the state and driving up taxes on every possible group. This is the third consecutive years for Illinois in leading the decline.
Illinois lost 37,508 people in 2016 and has now reached the lowest population in a decade. It is one of eight states on the decline and now has a population of 12,801,539 people. The move to the South is not the fault of Illinois’ leaders but there are also contributors like pension deals that brought politicians votes from unions but ruined the city and the state finances. Then there were absurdly corrupt deals (even for Chicago) for things like parking meters. Businesses face high taxes and endless requirements for permits and fees — something I hear about from various friends who struggle to stay in business in the city.
Other Midwestern states are facing the same dangerous trend with falls in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri. The mismanagement of budgets and rising tax levels can only exacerbate this trend. If cities like Chicago are going to thrive and avoid the death spiral of cities like Detroit, voters will have to hold politicians accountable for years of negligence and corruption. Illinois is an example of a lack of such accountability with politicians continuing with little evidence of such accountability despite financial crises that they helped produce.