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Chicago Population Lowest Since 1910

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The Chicago skyline. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Chicago skyline. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 02/16/11 6:35 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) – New U.S. Census data shows the population of Chicago has dropped to its lowest levels since 1910 figures.

Census data showed the population for the city proper in 2010 was 2,695,598.

The last Census that showed a lower figure for the city’s population was in 1910, when the population was 2,185,283. In 1920, the population was modestly higher than 2010, at 2,701,705.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

The population was also down 6.9 percent percent since 2000, when the Census recorded 2,896,016 people. A total of 200,418 people left the city in that time, according to Census data.

The 1990s, when the city grew 4 percent, had been Chicago’s first decade of growth in 50 years.

The city’s African-American population decreased particularly sharply. Compared with 2000, Chicago’s black population is down 18.1 percent, to 872,286 people, driving a decrease in the city’s total population from 2.9 million to 2.7 million.

The white population fell even more drastically, by 29.7 percent to 854,717.

The city’s Hispanic population grew about 3 percent.

Blacks remain the single largest group in the city at slightly more 32 percent. Whites make up slightly less than 32 percent of the city and Hispanics account for about 29 percent.

While young white professionals have moved into Chicago, they don’t offset the continuing loss of mainly older whites from ethnic neighborhoods, Chicago-based demographer Rob Paral said. He attributed part of the black migration to the demolition of some of the city’s notorious projects, like Cabrini-Green.

Many blacks are leaving the state of Illinois as a whole, experts said, for some of the same reasons people have long left northern, industrial states.

The city also lost black and white residents in the 2000 Census, but a steep growth in the Hispanic population helped fuel a population increase a decade ago.

Overall, Cook County’s population dwindled to just below 5.2 million, down by 3.4 percent since 2000.

Statewide, the strongest growth was in counties around Cook County, such as Lake (whose population grew by 9.2 percent), Will (up 34.9 percent) and Kane (up 27.5 percent), according to the census. Other strong growth counties included DeKalb, where population grew 18 percent, Champaign, where population increased by 11.9 percent, and McLean, where the population grew 12.7 percent.

New congressional district boundaries will be drawn along with state legislative districts based in part on census data, but it’s too early to say how that will play out, said State Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat involved in the redistricting process.

Areas that have lost population are more likely to lose representation, but the data themselves won’t be the only determining factors, he said.

Others include constitutional protections for minorities, and, of course, politics.

Illinois Republican Party chairman Pat Brady fully expects Democrats, who control the legislature, to redraw lines — in long bipartisan tradition — to benefit themselves.

One possibility is that census data showing more Hispanics now living in Chicago suburbs may lead Democrats in Chicago to extend their election districts into those areas, Brady said. That could even result in Democrats simultaneously pulling in additional suburbanite Republicans.

“But these guys are smart,” he said about the Democratic majority that now has the upper hand in redistricting. “They are smart enough to do the best job for themselves.”

Chicago has been the nation’s third largest city since being surpassed by Los Angeles in 1984 estimates. Final Census figures for the fourth largest city, Houston, are not out yet, but in 200, the population was about 2.28 million – only about 400,000 fewer than the latest numbers for Chicago.

The population of Chicago peaked at 3.62 million in 1950, and the list of the nation’s largest cities looked much different back then. New York still ranked at the top, but Philadelphia was third, Los Angeles fourth, and Detroit fifth. In 2009 estimates, Philadelphia had dropped to sixth after being surpassed by Phoenix, and Detroit to eleventh with fewer than 1 million people.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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