What does the 2020 Census data tell us about Chicago and the people of Chicago? | by Steven Vance
We’ve compiled insights and data resources on new census data that explains what’s happened to Chicago’s population (it’s grown). But first, I’ll explain some basics about the data source.
Every 10 years, the United States counts everyone in the country, called a decennial census, and is required by the US Constitution. These counts inform redistrictingwhere the boundaries of elected representatives can be drawn because congressional and other political districts—including Chicago wards—must have nearly equal numbers of people in them.
The US Census Bureau did the count last year. In April, the bureau released “distribution” data showing how many members of Congress each state will have (Illinois will lose one seat in Congress; see other states).
The most recent release, of decennial census data, on August 12, 2021, is what made the news this month; it is the first dataset that includes city-level information. The Illinois General Assembly used less accurate data from the American Community Survey (ACS) to redraw the boundaries of the Illinois Legislature and the Cook County Board of Review. We explained these new state borders and added them to our map in June.
The Daily Line compared ACS and Decennial Census data and found a “significant discrepancy”: “ACS data underestimated the state by 41,877 people”, to give an example. Cook County was among the 29 underrated counties. To deal with this, leaders of the Illinois Legislature have scheduled a special one-day session on Friday, August 31.
What is the population of Chicago now?
The population of Chicago in 2010 was 2,695,598 and in 2020 was 2,746,388, an increase of 1.9%. Intermediate population estimates – which showed “worrying” declines – were wrong, as explained in this article by Crain.
Which demographic groups have increased and decreased?
The following analysis was made by the demographer Franck Calebrese. Note that the census form allows people to choose multiple races and combine them with a Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Categories below that are not “other” should be read as people choosing only that race or ethnicity and not a combination; it is sometimes written “[category] alone”.
- Latino: up 5.22%
778,862 to 819,518 (40,656 more people) – now the second largest racial or ethnic category in Chicago, after White
- Black: 9.71% drop
872,286 to 787,551 (84,735 fewer people)
- White: up 1.04%
854,717 to 863,622 (8,905 more people)
- Asian: up 31.02%
144,903 to 189,857 (44,954 more people)
- Other: up 91.48%
44,830 to 85,840 (41,010 more people) – there is an increase in the number of people who do not identify by race, which Frank pointed out and which Bread Price Fixer opined on while the Census Bureau explained a difference in how it collected this attribute.
Which Chicago neighborhoods have grown and fallen?
Downtown Chicago and the South Loop grew the most. Specifically, “Since 1990, the population of the Loop and its 3 adjacent community areas has nearly doubled, and the past decade has seen the greatest growth to date, both in gross and percentage terms” (Bread Price Fixer, an anonymous Chicago-based data engineer).
The five community areas with the next highest growth were (click on any community area link to open its snapshot and map):
- Oakland (14.9% or 881 people; Oakland is part of the Bronzeville neighborhood)
- Hyde Park: 14.7% or 3,775 people)
- Grand Boulevard: 12.1% or 2,660 people; Grand Boulevard is part of the Bronzeville district)
- Riverdale (12.0% or 780 people)
- Douglas (11.3% or 2,053 people; Douglas is part of the Bronzeville neighborhood)
A more recent article by Crain explores the growth of Bronzeville. Growth in these community areas of South Lakefront can be seen in Noel Peterson’s Card (who works for CMAP and published the breakdown of census population data by community area).
The total population increase in Douglas, Grand Boulevard and Oakland was 5,594 people in 3,339 additional households (a population increase of 12.1%).
The growth in these three community areas highlights or a regrowth of the black population in Chicago is occurring, despite a 9.7% decrease in the black population of the whole city. Bread Price Fixer wrote, “An increase in the number of black residents accounted for the majority of overall population growth in Oakland, Grand Boulevard, and Washington Park, and only Woodlawn saw a decrease in the absolute number of black residents.
The Kenwood Community Area is also part of some people’s definition of Bronzeville, and the population increase there was 7.2% (or 1,275 people). Washington Park, which borders Hyde Park to the west, saw a larger increase than Kenwood of 8.5% (but a smaller absolute change in population, with just 990 more people).
The map, fascinatingly, shows that Logan Square has lost population. It has been known for a while that the Hispanic/Latino population has been declining: “From 2010 to 2018, the Hispanic population in Logan Square fell from nearly 38,000 to just over 30,000, a loss of approximately 20 %”. (Chicago Sun-Times, December 2019).
In fact, the total population of Logan Square has decreased by 1.5% from 2010 to 2020. At the same time, the white population there has increased by 11.6%. Household size decreased by 9.7% while the number of households increased by 9.4%. Finally, the number of housing units increased by 6.9%.
I was pleased to see that the number of housing units increased as Logan Square has been a prime area for deconversions (converting 2 or 3 units into 1) and teardowns (replacing 2 or 3 units with a new detached house). What we don’t yet know – from the census data already available – is how the affordability of existing units has changed and changes in household incomes and composition (number of children, elderly, etc)
What data comes later?
The Census Bureau will continue to process census data and publish tables on age and sex, as well as combinations of race and ethnicity and age and sex data. Other information that we commonly attribute to the census – including education level, income, type of housing and costs (including mortgage and rent), veteran status – will be part of from the release of the US Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey (ACS) in December.
You can use our Loans and Investments Snapshot (which is an accessory to the Location Snapshot and Address Snapshot) to review pre-2020 Census information in the aforementioned categories.
Where can I get the data?
Download the full or processed datasets using the links below. Or search for the location snapshot for one of Chicago’s 77 community areas on ChicagoCityscape.com and view the data table in the “More Information” section.