Cook County suffers massive black population loss
More African-Americans are leaving Cook County than any other county in the United States, according to recent U.S. Census data.
At least 50,000 black residents moved out of the county between 2010 and 2016, the bureau said. In 2016, the county saw more than 12,000 African-American residents depart, marking the third straight year the county has led the nation in black population loss.
According to a Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) analysis of Census Bureau data, most of the fleeing population consists of low-income blacks from Chicago. In fact, the analysis showed that while 56,000 low-income black residents moved out of Chicago between 2010 and 2015, suburban Cook County saw an increase of more than 5,000.
“Opportunities for blacks have been thin for a long time,” Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation for MPC, told the South Cook News. “The unemployment rate in some areas of the city is as high as 40 percent. Looking for work and not being able to find it can be taxing. Unstable people say to themselves, 'I can do better going someplace else.'”
The west and south sides of Chicago saw the most losses, which were almost entirely residents under the age of 25, according to the data.
Loury said the sharp drop in black population can be linked to inner-city changes such as the demolition of thousands of public housing units, a precipitous decline in black enrollment in Chicago’s public schools and an avalanche of foreclosures, including thousands of rental properties that came about in the years following the recession of the early 2000s.
“Housing options cut when markets were hurt by recession have still not come back,” Loury said. “And the city has been reticent to increase the number of vouchers. Low-income people are simply seeking better options in downstate communities and places like Iowa and Wisconsin that have a better housing market.”
At the same time, Loury noted the number of whites, Asians and Hispanics across the area have increased.
“This suggest that the experience felt by African-Americans may be different from that of other races, especially when it comes to the city," he said.
"There’s general concern about the city’s vitality as a whole stemming from all the population lost, but the loss is really happening in just a couple parts of town and among just one particular group," Loury said.