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Major decline in Cook County population
South suburban counties garner mammoth growth

Thursday, March 22, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Art Golab

Census population estimates released today show Cook County posted the third biggest decline in the nation, losing 88,000 residents since 2000.
Only counties surrounding New Orleans, ravaged by a hurricane, and Detroit, clobbered by a declining auto industry, lost more.
In the same period, however, Kendall County, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, added nearly 34,000 residents and had the second-fastest growth rate in the nation — 61.7 percent. Will County, south of Chicago, also made the top 100 fastest-growing counties. It came in 36th and grew 33 percent.
The numbers illustrate a continuing national trend of counties with large urban areas losing population, said Loyola University demographer Kenneth Johnson.
But the twist in recent years is that people aren’t just leaving Chicago — they are also leaving suburban Cook County. “What we’re seeing is like ripples in a pond,” Johnson said. “The city and central core are losing, the inner suburbs are starting to face some losses and the suburbs on the outer edge are growing like crazy.”
Cheaper housing and job growth in more distant suburbs are the main draws.
But the census data released today doesn’t say where all the people moving to the rural fringe are coming from.
“This isn’t the old notion of flight from urban centers,” said Kermit Wies of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. “A lot of people who are coming into this region are coming from other places in the country. It’s not all residents of Cook County moving to Kendall.”
Wies thinks Cook County will still grow in the long term, adding more than half a million people by 2030.
However, most growth in the area is projected to occur further out, posing planners with big problems in providing water and efficient transportation, according to Wies.

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