State population undercounted in 2020 census, now largest ever

An Illinois flag waves in the wind in downtown Peoria, Friday, May 20, 2022.
An Illinois flag waves in the wind in downtown Peoria, Friday, May 20, 2022.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 6:39 PM CDT
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PEORIA (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The population of Illinois went above 13 million for the first time ever, Governor JB Pritzker’s office said.

According to newly released data from the US Census Bureau Thursday, the 2020 census undercounted Illinois’ population by nearly two percent, for a total of 250,000 residents. It’s something many here in the River City are celebrating.

“It was good news for the state of Illinois,” Greater Peoria Economic Development Council CEO Chris Setti said. “Whether we had lost some population or we had added some population, we still believe the Peoria-area is a great place to live,”

Under the original 2020 data, Illinois lost a congressional seat, and it now has 17. Although the state’s population has been stable in the last 50 years. it has lost several House of Representatives over the last 50 years. That decrease will not change with the new data. The originally reported decrease caused many to say the state and Peoria were bleeding residents.

“We need to get over that inferiority complex and start showing a little civic pride again,” Peoria City Councilman Tim Riggenbach said.

The new data does not include a region, county or municipality breakdown. According to the post-census survey, the new data is such a small portion of the state’s population, it “can not reliably be broken down” by demographics or geography. However, the new data will help in other areas, like the 2030 census.

A list released earlier this week from U.S. News and World Report ranked Peoria as the best place to live in Illinois. Joshua Gunn at the Peoria-Area Chamber of Commerce says things like that can be selling points for the city and region.

“I think we need to focus our energies on leveraging that to keep the people that we have here, and grow our talent and grow our population,” Gunn said.

Original 2020 census data showed Peoria lost around 2,000 residents.

“You would surely think with the number that they are talking about that we could make that up.,” Riggenbach said.

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