RCF Special Report – Fewer People and More Jobs Lead to Large Gains in Per Capita Income in Illinois

RCF’s new report examines population and employment changes in Illinois.  The full report can be found here: RCF Illinois Per Capita Income May 2017.

Illinois is one of only two states to lose population from 2013 to 2016. From 2013 to 2016, the population of Illinois declined by 0.6 percent while the population in the U.S. increased 2.2 percent. Other nearby states saw increases in their population, though all these states saw slower population growth than occurred nationally. Some of this population loss is a continuation of a decades-long trend of people moving to southern and western states. However, given that other Midwest states have seen population gains, it is likely that the decline in Illinois’ population means that many Illinois residents have a negative outlook regarding the state’s future. Moreover, population losses in Illinois have been widespread, with 91 of the state’s 102 counties seeing a decline in population over the past three years.

Yet, despite the population loss, Illinois has added almost 200,000 workers over the past three years. Although much of this job growth is in the Chicago area, 79 of 102 counties in Illinois had an increase in employment from 2013 to 2016.

The combination of increased employment and decreased population means that there has been a meaningful increase in the proportion of the state’s residents who are employed. In fact, the employment-to-population ratio in Illinois has grown more rapidly than for the nation as a whole.

Furthermore, the increase in the proportion of the state’s population that is employed has contributed to an 11.7 percent increase in per capita personal income from 2013 to 2016. This is actually somewhat greater than the 11.4 percent increase in per capital personal income across the entire U.S. during the same period.

Even more significant, per capita personal income has grown faster in Illinois than in virtually all of its neighboring states.

Thus, while many have left Illinois, the economic conditions of those who remain are much better than commonly believed.

A more detailed analysis of county changes in population and employment will be available in our forthcoming report, “Illinois: Fewer People and More Jobs.”

For additional information or questions, please contact Mr. Peter Bernstein, RCF Vice President, 312-431-1540 ext.1515 or by email: pbernstein@rcfecon.com.