February 15, 2011. Chicago. The U.S. Census Bureau today released preliminary data from the recent 2010 census. The data shows that since 2000, over 200,000 residents fled Chicago. Chicago now has a population of 2,695,598.
Cook County also suffered due to the flight from Chicago, losing 182,066 residents. Cook County’s population now rests at 5,194,675. The numbers suggest that ten percent of the 200,000 residents who left Chicago settled in the surrounding suburbs while the remainder settled either in surrounding counties or in other states.
These numbers fly in the face of arguments made recently by the city and state’s most powerful leadership. State Senate President Cullerton, State Speaker Madigan and Governor Pat Quinn have all argued that the recent record hike in income taxes wouldn’t lead to any businesses or residents leaving the area. Even Chicago mayor Richard Daley has added fuel to the exodus by continually raising taxes while claiming that nobody is leaving because of them.
The census numbers released today would seem to give credibility to the vast numbers of studies and surveys that have monitored the flight of Chicago’s residents. Typically, two of the top three reasons given for leaving are exorbitant taxes and corruption.
Additional data released by the real estate industry last week paints an even gloomier story. The math would suggest that while the city lost over 200,000 residents from 2000 to 2010, Chicago may lose that number and more in just 2011 alone.
Chicago Breaking Business reported that over 38 percent of Chicago homes were currently ‘under water’. And that doesn’t even include homes in foreclosure. That means that in roughly 2 out of every 5 homes, the owner owes more money on the mortgage than the home is worth.
Additional data from the Woodstock Institute via Progress Illinois reveal that the number of completed foreclosure auctions in the Chicago metropolitan area increased 25 percent from 2009 through last year to a startling 30,981 properties. They also conclude that since 95 percent of those homes are owned by banks, real estate funds or investors, they are also most likely vacant.
One item is certain. With the Chicago Mayoral and Aldermanic elections this month, the city’s law-makers have most-likely seen what the thousands of election workers have also noticed. Any precinct worker out ringing doorbells will tell you that the number of vacant houses in the city is nowhere near the 10 percent that the census numbers would suggest. Based on random samplings and varying from neighborhood to neighborhood, the number of vacant homes is estimated at closer to 20 percent with vacant businesses fairing even worse.
There is one bright spot for Chicago residents and taxpayers. The Daleys, Madigans, Cullertons and Quinn have assured us, “Nobody is leaving”. According to Illinois’ most powerful leaders, it’s simply a figment of your imagination. Now don’t you feel better?
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