Rauner, Emanuel Trade Jabs Over Chicago’s Population Loss

CHICAGO (CBS) — The latest U.S. Census figures show Chicago was the only major American city to lose population last year, prompting political finger-pointing between the mayor and the governor.

Chicago was the only city among the nation’s 20 largest to suffer a population loss in each of the last three years.

Making a political jab, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office issued a statement citing Chicago’s rising property taxes, surging violence, and school funding problems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office said the city’s population decline started when Rauner began disparaging the city during the 2014 election.

“Chicago’s population grew each of the first three years the mayor was in office, but since taking office the governor has driven uncertainty in every corner of the state, and Chicago has not been immune from the effects,” Emanuel spokesman Grant Klinzman said. “The fact that the State of Illinois is leading the nation in population loss and the loss of college students is a direct result of a lack of leadership by Governor Rauner and the instability he has created.”

“Instead of finger pointing, the mayor should focus on fixing his city’s own problems,” Rauner spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said.

Metropolitan Planning Council director of research Alden Loury said the numbers mean more than that.

“The fact that the city’s losing population, despite a lot of the advances that are being made – particularly in and around downtown – is a sign that the city and the direction of the city can’t rest on downtown,” he said.

Loury said the number of people leaving has grown each year, but it’s not everyone moving out. He said, in the early 2000s, the city lost population in black and white community areas, but the white population has bounced back this decade.

“The only set of community areas that are collectively losing population in Chicago are those that are majority African-American. Majority white community areas, majority Latino community areas, community areas with no majority, racially-mixed community areas, and then the one Asian community area all gained population,” he said. “African-American community areas lost population, about 40,000 or so people.”

Among blacks who have left Cook County, Loury said the most frequent destinations were Atlanta, the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and the Dallas area.

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