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New population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau released this morning indicate Evanston’s population declined last year, but is still higher than it was at the start of the decade.

The survey-based annual estimates are notoriously volitile for communities as small as Evanston, but, for what it’s worth, the just-released estimate says Evanston had 74,895 people in July 2016, down from 75,527 in July 2015, but up from the 2010 decennial census figure of 74,486.

On a percentage basis, that would indicate that Evanston gained 1.4 percent in population between 2010 and 2015, but then lost 0.84 percent of its population within the last year. But the city still shows a 0.55 population increase from 2010 to 2016.

The pattern was similar for the City of Chicago — which, the Census says, saw its population grow 0.93 percent from 2010 to 2015, but then fall by 0.57 percent in from 2015 to 2016.

Skokie saw its population grow just 0.06 percent from 2010 to 2015 and then lost 0.85 percent of its population last year. Wilmette’s population grew 1.2 percent from 2010 to 2015 but then fell 0.71 percent from 2015 to 2016.

The Census Bureau released estimates for cities across the country this morning, indicating ten of the 15 fastest-growing large cities were in the south, with four of the top five in Texas.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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6 Comments

  1. School population numbers in question ?

    For all we heard before the Referendum [and over the years before], does the school population projections still hold ?  It sounds like the Board should have known the preliminary census estimates and told the voters.

    How accurate havve projections five years out been before ?

    1. Population numbers

      Hi Guest,

      The population estimates were just released by the U.S. Census Bureau today, so I don’t see any basis for your claim that the school board “should” have known about them before last month’s election.

      The decennial census is pretty much the gold standard for population studies — but the interim year figures are based on surveys that can have fairly large sampling errors — especially when you’re looking at communities of fairly modest size, like Evanston.

      I remember seeing the number for Evanston bounce around pretty dramatically from year to year last decade. So I would take today’s numbers with at least a grain of salt.

      On the other hand — the broad trends you see in the national and state level data — of more growth in the south and flat or declining populations in some northeast and midwestern states — probably are worth giving more credence to.

      — Bill

    2. The school referendum was not
      The school referendum was not based solely on future projections of new students. The influx of 1,500 new students over the last decade, with limited new tax revenues, was a huge part of the problem. The way the law works, you cannot simply raise taxes, as the portion that goes to fund education is capped. You need to actually increase the total tax base– the bigger pie theory. This is on top of the fact that the state is not even close to meeting their funding obligations (this is an across-the-state funding issue, not just Evanston.) That is why there was a special referendum. The best way to increase the pie is to spur taxable development that does not add kids to the school roles. That is why many are in favor of high-density, transit oriented development downtown. This is taxable real estate for people that typically do not have school aged kids (single professionals, empty nesters, etc) Another tax bucket that can be expanded is commercial business downtown, and industrial business on the west side of town. As we all know, nothing gets done in Evanston without a healthy dose of skepticism, so for every resident who complains that the referendum is a money-grab, that same resident is likely against any new development that could expand the tax base.

      1. The per-student spending kept

        The per-student spending kept pace, generally, with the increase in student enrollment.  The referendum added more money on top of that.

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