Nearly 90,000 People Fled J.B. Pritzker’s Illinois Between 2021 and 2022, Taking Billions in Income With Them

Democratic governor turns a blind eye to state's population decline

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D.) (Getty Images)
July 1, 2024

More than 87,000 people fled Illinois between 2021 and 2022, causing the state to lose nearly $10 billion in income, according to the most recent IRS data. Governor J.B. Pritzker (D.) denies that Illinois is suffering from population loss.

Between 2021 and 2022, over 264,000 people left Illinois and 177,000 moved in—a net loss of over 87,000 people, IRS records show. When a May census report showed similar results, Pritzker doubted the data, accusing the census of being inaccurate. "You should take what I’m saying as truth that actually, when we count people, it turns out we’re gaining," the governor said in May.

Pritzker said the census missed certain people because "sometimes people are homeless and don’t get counted, or some people are just hidden and hard to get to, and they didn’t get counted. Illinois gained population."

Recent IRS records, however, align with the census. Illinois lost $9.8 billion in income from the people who fled. In 2021, the American Legislative Exchange Council ranked Pritzker the fourth worst governor for his economic performance. Democratic state representative La Shawn Ford blamed the decline on the state’s burdensome property taxes.

"You look at property taxes. We are competing with border states that don’t have the same levels of tax levies as Illinois," Ford said in 2023.

"We’re not bringing in the best and the brightest in many cases to the state of Illinois," Republican state senator Andrew Chesney told the Illinois Radio Network, "we’re actually pushing them out of our state through awful policies, and we’re backfilling it with folks that want services."

Illinois’s population has declined significantly since Pritzker took office in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s population estimates. Illinois’s population fell by 117,000 people between 2019 and 2023. In 2023, Illinois’s population was 12.5 million people. Yet, Pritzker denied these results and said, "We have more than 13 million people in the state of Illinois."

Florida was the biggest benefactor of Illinois’s population exodus. Thirty-one thousand people who left Illinois went to Florida, along with over $4 billion in income.