Tracking The Great Escape From Cook County And Illinois

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

Cook County Illinois has the largest population loss of any county in the nation. Chicago represents just over half of the population of Cook County.

Here is a graph I put together of the “Great Escape” from Illinois.


  • Between 2013 and 2016 the population of Illinois fell by 77,966. The population of Cook County fell by 36,739.
  • Between 2001 and 2016 the population of Illinois rose by 313,084. The population of Cook County fell by 122,759.
  • Starting in 2013, the “great escape” is in roughly equal numbers from Cook County and the rest of the state.

Job Highlights

On July 23 I noted Eight States Including Illinois Have Not Recovered Jobs Lost in Prior Recessions. The states are Alabama, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wyoming.

Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan are still below employment levels set in 2000. Here is a new chart I created comparing Illinois to Michigan and Ohio.

At least Illinois is not last in every category.

Metro Area Unemployment: Which States Are in Reverse? Spotlight Illinois

  • Illinois has 12 metro areas, none of which have unemployment rates below the national average.
  • Illinois worsened between 1998 and 2007 and then again from 2007 to 2017.
  • Neighboring states are all now better than Illinois

Illinois vs Neighboring States

For more details, please see Metro Area Unemployment: Which States Are in Reverse? Spotlight Illinois.

With each passing decade, the unemployment situation in Illinois has gotten worse.

This is not surprising. The state passed its first budget in three fiscal years, complete with massive tax hikes. The budget is required by Constitution to be balanced, but it isn’t.

An exodus of businesses and private citizens is underway. Reforms are desperately needed but none came with the passage of the budget.

Rauner 0-44

Governor Rauner is 0 for 44 in reforms he set out to accomplish. In fact, the corporate and personal tax hikes put the true score at -2 out of 44.

Cash-strapped cities suffer under prevailing wage laws and untenable pension promises.

Corporations suffer under the worst workers’ compensation laws in the nation.

Citizens suffer from the highest property taxes in the nation.

It is too late to save Illinois from insolvency. Rather than fix the problem, the new tax hikes will make matters worse.

Five Desperately Needed Reforms

  1. Municipal bankruptcy legislation
  2. Pension reform
  3. Right-to-Work legislation
  4. End of prevailing wage laws
  5. Workers’ compensation reform

Number one on my list of Illinois reforms is bankruptcy legislation. It is the only way out for numerous Illinois cities whose hands are tied by union-sponsored prevailing wage laws and pension plans.

Moody’s held off for now downgrading Illinois to junk status, but junk is baked into the cake sooner or later. The budget fixes nothing.

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Secret Weapon's picture

Should be named "Crook County".  Nothing gets done without a bribe. 

froze25's picture

Alex, "What is White flight?"

CuttingEdge's picture

Is it wrong that the first image conjured up on reading "Cook County" is Joliet (and Jake).

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

They just need to DRASTICALLY raise taxes (again, and again...) and everything will be fine.


Stuck on Zero's picture

The politicians of Illinois have been told that raising taxes will bring in less revenue. What is their response? Raise taxes. After all they were all educated in Illinois schools.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Gubmint "schools" run by gubmint unions who buy politicians their seats. Can it get any worse?

hedgeless_horseman's picture


I am reminded of the husband and wife characters in Rawles' novel, Patriots, who stick around just one day too long, then must escape Chicago via the sewer system, and make their way to Idaho at the start of the crunch.

Better to get out, now, before the shooting starts.


Year to Date

Shot & Killed: 371

Shot & Wounded: 1747

Total Shot: 2118

Total Homicides: 399


Too late!

djcando's picture

A perfect training ground for going to Washington.

NumNutt's picture

You know things are bad in Chicago, when Detroit is actually doing better.....according to the information in this article, I still would not live in Detroit...

shoWTHyme's picture

"Is it wrong that the first image conjured up on reading "Cook County" is Joliet (and Jake)."


A Blues Brothers reference is *never* wrong.

Offthebeach's picture

The numbers are worse than they seem.

Low income, losers,  mexicans, continue to move into Crook County, plus the usual Bush to Obama Muslims.  Furthermore the "burf" rate of dindo Section 8 spawn relentlessly hit the hospital floors like hail on a parking lot.  Sooo, even MORE taxpayers,  job/buisness generators are leaving...but it is obscured by the gimme-grants pouring in.

Detroit part deux

any_mouse's picture

A breakdown by race might be interesting.

froze25's picture

People who have housing provided for them, money given to them and food supplied to them at no cost to them tend not to move. They also have no cost to reproducing, while working people have to debate if they can afford children or not. Total Bull Shit! So sick of it. This spans all races, some more proportionally than others.

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

Need to convince China, Russia, Israel and Japan that 'diversity' is their greatest strength.

Zero_Ledge's picture

For once, I am in complete agreement.

BrownCoat's picture


Wrong rant. Do the one about Mafia and the Sicilian economy. Organized crime controls Chicago and the State. It is impossible (and has been for at least 30 years) for honest people to vote out the state legislature.  Illinois has been consistently raising taxes regardless of the political party in power. They will continue to do so.

As far as voting with their feet...
Illinois has not added a Congressional seat since the 1970s. The population may grow (augmented with illegals), but not relative to the other 49 states. Illinois has been a failed state for a long, long time. Detroit was a failed city. A harbinger for a failed state. Illinois is a failed state. A harbinger for a failed nation.  Ahhh, I love the smell of Collectivism in the morning!

Calculus99's picture

Look for the 3 pillars of politicians to shine brightly over Illinois for the next few years as they struggle to solve the problems they themselves created - 

1. Incompetence

2. Weakness

3. Dishonesty


Xena fobe's picture

Grow government.  Hire and promote relatives.  Get kick backs.  Peddle influence. 

Deplorable's picture

Annnnd ther're gone.....

Solio's picture

Cooked Goose County.

any_mouse's picture

Meredith Whitney, too early by eight years.

Dr. Engali's picture

Crazy fuckers will move this way and vote in the same bullshit they are running away from.

silverer's picture

"Governor Rauner is 0 for 44". He should change his party affiliation to Democrat, then everyone can stay there.

BrownCoat's picture

@ silverer,

Wrong! What happened to Rauner has happened to *all* reformers. (You might want to lower your expectations for Trump). The reformer is either isolated or flips. Michael Madigan runs to state. If you want to complain about an individual, Michael Madigan is THE one. Party affiliation is a joke. Looking strickly at voting records, you cannot tell an Illinois Republican from an Illinois Democrat. Both are equally corrupt. Both have an undying belief that the taxpayer's pocket is a bottomless pit. (Gee, so did Obama.)

E. Phil Chew's picture

"Crazy fuckers will move this way and vote in the same bullshit they are running away from."

Had to give it a +1 only because I couldn't give it a +1,000,000.

Many 'blue' folks are doin' the boogidee to non-'blue' areas solely to infest/infect and bring hopeandchange.

Gonna get worse before it gets better.

Icewater Enema's picture

Exactly, same thing that happened to NH when all the Mass whiners moved north. Then they vote in the same morons that they were escaping from. Lots of development in SE Wisconsin. Amazon, Uline, others putting in warehouses near Racine along I 94. Foxconn will announce new plant this week, probably in that area. Despite all the lunacy, money still fairly rational in this day and age - flows away from shitholes to better-run states.

youngman's picture

are they escaping or just being killed off...

froze25's picture

This is the conversation, "Honey, we can't raise our kids here". "You are right we have to cut our loses and leave".

E. Phil Chew's picture

"Are they escaping, or just being killed off?"

Yes.    ;-)

TuPhat's picture

But the article on ZH a few days ago said a lot of big corporations were moving to chicago and the millenials all love the place.  One of these is not true.

jimijon's picture

Along and near the lakefront they are building like crazy. If you go inland a bit you will see tons of storefronts for rent. 


Location, Location, Location

silverer's picture

They're ready to ante up the taxes of living in the windy city. Must be a great place. Just don't mention the crime issue. Ignore it, and it won't exist in your mind. Chicago pols are rubbing their hands together now, they're so excited. The companies can afford the taxes because they bring revenue in from the other states. A simple transfer of wealth. I sure hope those companies are profitable. They're going to need it.

Cloud9.5's picture

The two trends are not mutually exclusive.  Somebody like Apple opens a regional headquarters in Chicago and a five hundred office workers move in. The new arrivals gentrify a couple of neighborhoods.  A thousand retirees move to the Villages in Florida.  A dozen drycleaners and a host of other small businesses close their doors and move outside the city limits to avoid higher city taxes.   These small businesses fire the people who cannot move with them and the city suffers.

markitect's picture

This article is oversimplification.  Inside Cook County is a Detroit, in size and make up.  That mostly south city & suburban region is classic rust belt and the bulk of the losses.  Then there are the baby boomers retiring en mass to FL and AZ, a trend seen all across the midwest and New England states.  Lastly the rural towns are dying of the same diseases that plague small town America from coast to coast - unprofitable family farming, loss of agribusiness and industrial plants, opioid abuse, the young moving away.  But then there is a mini-Manhattan inside Cook County thats going gangbusters, problem is the growth is so lopsided and only benefits a few.  It's America in miniature.

mnevins2's picture

True, but not true.  Yes, the south part of the city and many of the south suburbs are bad (as is the west side of the city) - as are the retirees following the natural migration south and west.  HOWEVER, it must be noted that every state surrounding IL is GROWING in population and they have proportionally just as many retirees, small towns, farms, etc.

Illinois is slowly losing to itself and surrounding states for two main reasons:  taxes and crime.

Many areas of the city and suburbs are doing fairly well (and I fortunately live in one of the latter), but there is no hiding the growing decay - precipitated by sky-high taxes and crime.  Anecdotally, I've been surprised by how no one that I've spoken to - regardless of political beliefs - is unaware of the drip, drip, drip problems and have one eye on the door.

My wife and I, in our 50's, are two such people.  Why do we stay?  To simplify, employment.  For now.

beeeeeep's picture

Not really.  McDonalds was in Oak Brook which was in Cook County already.  What really happens when big corporations move their offices to Chicago itself is that they are given exemptions or reduced rates as part of the deal for moving to the city.  That basically means if you're a huge company you get special rates while small businesses still pay full corproate income taxes.

Justin Case's picture

Ah Hamerica. The host of the parasites is dying. It is being abandoned and the banker parasites now look for a new host to feed on. China looks ripe and is going ahead with OBOR. MMMM yummy. They will be all over that. Billions sloshing back and forth. Bye bye American pie.

otschelnik's picture

Such a pessimistic article.  Despite the fact that 4 of the last 8 Illinois governors ended up in jail, I'm sure that they're just steps away from stopping the blacks from shooting each other, straightening out their unfinanced pensions, and the sanctuary city policy will make them the city shining on the hill, something the entire nation will admire.

Justin Case's picture

Nothing higher interest rates can't fix. Evry ting is AWESOME exceptional people!

silverer's picture

"fell by 36,739"

Well, I'm sure the politicians are well educated and really good at math. With that loss of population, multiplied by the taxes they paid, it's clear they have to make that up someplace. The logical, moral, and ethical thing to do is dump it on the people that don't want to move, love Illinois, and only vote for Democrats. They demand to be taxed more. Raise the taxes! Winning!

OCnStiggs's picture

As someone who used to live there, would YOU want to move YOUR family there?


Horse Pizzle's picture

Watch Cat leave Peoria.  It's not playing well. 

SmilinJoeFizzion's picture

For those who have never been to Chicago- There really are two Chicagos.  If you have been then you know what Im talking about.  Chicago was just voted the best food town in America. Also, great sports town. Every big city has its shithole area. Even places like Miami have hellhole spots you would never venture out in after dark and they are smack in the middle of the city. The Chicago warzones are fairly far removed from the places in Chicago where you would want to go.  The "element" may venture into these spots from time to time but the mayor and cops start cracking heads when the flash mobs get a little to adventurous. I even read that most of the people fleeing Chicago are African American.  You lose 2 African Americans to every cornfed Big Ten graduate Millenial. thats a +3 net.  City is booming and you can get a 5 bedroom house in Lincoln park for 1/10 the price of the same house in SF or NYC.  Thats a fact - Keep on stacking



surf@jm's picture

Schuamburg amazed me, because there wasn`t one dirty, beater car to be seen......

Everybody drove a nice shiny new car......

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

I hear the Chicago winters are mild and lovely, too!

Dead Indiana Sky's picture

This is all very true.  The city's biggest population loss is the good people from the 'hoods are getting out, leaving a veritable "Escape From Englewood" sequel for Snake Plissken.  That'll soon be all that's left.

theSpringZone's picture

What is, "White flight" Alex?

Falling Down's picture

Reminds me of Upstate, NY, and NY in general.

The real nitty gritty would be the IRS adjusted gross household imcomes for those who left, vs. those moving to Crook County.

The difference in household imcomes for those moving out of NY state vs. those moving in is around $30K/yr. Literally billions that the state, municipalities, overpaid gubmint employees, etc., could not get their grubby hands on. Just imagine the tax revemue hole left in IL, and Cook County.

surf@jm's picture

Well, maybe Illinois can take a page from the Birmingham Alabama sewer authority, and start billing people in the surrounding districts, who don`t even use Birminghams sewer pipes, to cover expenses.......

Of course, most of those Birmingham politicians who made that decision, are now in jail for corruption, but hey, the money is for the people...

Illinois can send tax bills to the people of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana......

Hey, the money is for the people.......