Whether it is high taxes, crime, cold winters or a combination of all three, Illinoisans continue to leave the state for greener pastures.
A total of 80,000 people left Illinois last year, the seventh consecutive year the state has sustained a net population loss. In the last decade, Illinois has recorded the second largest population loss among U.S. states with West Virginia leading the way.
Only nine of Illinois’ 102 counties saw a population increase over the past decade. Kendall County, home to Yorkville and Oswego, bucked the trend and led the state with a 6.6% population gain.
Some U.S. cities are offering money to move there and work remotely. Tulsa, Oklahoma, is offering $10,000 dollars to pack up and relocate. The Tulsa Remote program requires that you already have a job and stay at least one year.
“Already this year, just from Jan. 1, we’ve had 300 people from Illinois apply,” said Grant Bumgarner, community manager for the program.
Funding for Tulsa Remote comes from the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Bentonville, Arkansas, has already gained an edge in the competition for remote workers before the pandemic, when economic development officials began offering $10,000 and a free bike to move to the area.
Other places trying to attract workers with cash offers are Topeka, Kansas, and Hamilton, Ohio. The trend only only grows stronger as remote work expands.
Indiana, Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona account for much of the state’s out-migration. Illinois stands to lose at least one seat in Congress because of the population loss following reapportionment later this year.
If you go to Tulsa and take them up on their offer, Bumgarner said there is a good chance you will stay.
“That was the idea when we first started this and it has proven to be true,” he said. “Currently we have a 93% retention rate, people who have done the program, finished their year and are still here to this day.”
The Center Square – Kevin Bessler
Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.