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Illinois population loss since 2020 is almost 2%. I smell a rate. Great census chart.

You expect me to believe that people are leaving Illinois because of high crime, taxes, lousy government, anti-business environment, bad weather, lousy sports teams...sorry I need to lie down.

NO I say! The Census fudged the data.

Illinois' population shrank by 1.6% from 2020 to 2022, per new U.S. Census Bureau data.

Axios News.

Yes, but: An Illinois congressman is questioning the latest numbers and the federal agency, which he says is fueling "misleading narratives" with its flawed data.

Why it matters: The data can greatly affect Illinois' level of federal representation and more than a $1 trillion in federal funding over the next decade.

Plus, the numbers are disseminated widely by the press and often used to bolster partisan agendas.

The big picture: The past few years have been especially turbulent for population trends, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting birth and death rates, interstate and international migration, and more, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

By the numbers: According to the new estimates, Kendall County grew the most, by nearly 4% from 2020 to 2022.

Alexander County in far southern Illinois shrank by 6%.

Cook County supposedly saw a 2.9% decline.

Flashback: Census population estimates have proven unreliable in the past.

  • 2020 census figures estimated that Illinois had lost about 18,000 residents since 2010.

  • Then, last spring, the Census Bureau declared that, oops, the state had actually gained 250,000 people after conducting a post-enumeration survey to measure the census' accuracy.

  • Illinois was among 14 states in which the 2020 census undercounted or overcounted populations at a statistically significant rate. The agency blamed "challenges such as conducting fieldwork during the COVID-19 pandemic," among other issues.

What they're saying: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi has been urging the Census Bureau to update its methodology. He sent a letter to the bureau in December and then another two weeks ago, but nothing has changed.

The Census Bureau did not respond to Axios' requests for comment.

What we're watching: Krishnamoorthi and other lawmakers have suggested, among other things, incorporating data from the PES into their population projections.

But in a February letter, the bureau said December 2023 would be the earliest that adjustments to the estimates could be made.

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