Chicago's Shifting Population

You’ve probably heard about how Chicago has been losing population over the past few years. It’s not a huge amount. Just a few thousand per year. But clearly Chicago’s population is moving in a different direction than the rest of the country, with people leaving for greener pastures. Of course, that’s what people should do – if they can find greener pastures.
However, the story of Chicago’s changing population is a bit more nuanced. As an article in yesterday’s Crain’s pointed out Chicago is “attracting more young, well-off residents” – specifically households with more than $100,000 in income and with a head of household under 45. Between 2010 and 2016 Chicago gained 26,000 such households. Another demographic segment that is growing is people with college degrees. We’re lucky that these segments are growing because we need more high income folks to help pay the higher taxes that are coming our way.
But if the population is on the decline why are there construction cranes all over the city? Who is going to occupy all these buildings? So I got curious about how the population is shifting across the city.
I took a look at the population of Chicago’s 77 community areas in 2010 and then again in 2017 to determine where the shifts were occurring. This used to be a lot easier than it is now. At some point in the last 10 years or so they screwed up the census tracts. There was a time when the census tracts lined up nicely with community areas. Even the tract numbers corresponded to the community numbers. But now some of the new census tracts have odd numbering schemes and cross community areas. Some even go outside the city limits. So when I pulled together the population data for each of the community areas I had to finesse a few of the numbers to come up with the table below. I also looked at what others on the Web were claiming these area populations to be.
For the most part the data below is what you’d expect based upon media coverage of what is going on in Chicago. High income areas like the Loop, Near West Side, North Center, Near North Side, and West Town are growing rapidly while lower income areas on the south side are shrinking rapidly. This explains how the city can be on a building spree while shrinking. No big surprises here but it’s interesting to see the magnitude of the shifts.

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Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area’s full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider’s view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he’s the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.

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