Figures from the 2010 census released today show that Evanston’s population grew by only 247 people in the past decade, to a total of 74,486.

By comparison, the City of Chicago lost 200,000 people and the metro area as a whole gained about 210,000.

The numbers from the decennial population count are a dramatic drop from the latest census bureau population estimates for Evanston, which indicated a 2009 population of 77,857 — an increase which had been credited to a surge in new construction, mostly downtown, in the early years of the decade.

The latest census numbers show little change in the white population of the city. It rose less than one percent, to 48,872 over the past decade.

But the black population dropped more than 19 percent, to 13,474.

The Asian population grew nearly 42 percent, to 6,416.

And the number of people identifying themselves as being of two or more races grew nearly 26 percent to 2,846.

The Hispanic population grew 48 percent to 6,739.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the the demographic trends in the numbers are no surprise but that city staff would be looking at the census-tract level numbers to see it there appear to be any discrepancies that might justify an appeal of the Census Bureau count.

In particular he said staff would look at census tracts where there’s been development and see if those numbers seem to square with ones from other parts of town.

As for the difference between the 2009 and 2010 numbers, he said studies show that the estimated numbers based on surveys conducted between the decennial censuses tend to be least accurate at the end of their 10 year cycle.

If there’s a miscalculation at any time during the decade, it tends to multiply over time, he said.

Bobkiewicz said Evanston aldermen are likely to be looking closely at the numbers at the census tract level over the next couple of months as they start to consider how to redistrict the city’s wards to reflect the new census data.

Results for other towns

The 2010 census numbers show Skokie’s population growing 2.3 percent, to 64,784. The population of Arlington Heights fell 1.2 percent, to 75,101.

Dramatic growth in downstate Champaign, up 20 percent, and Bloomington, up 18 percent, moved them above Evanston in the ranking of the largest cities in Illinois.

But with Schaumburg’s population falling 1.3 percent, dropping below Evanston to 74,227, Evanston only lost one position in the rankings and now stands as the state’s 15th largest city.

Statewide the biggest percentage gains among the top 20 cities were reported by Aurora, which grew 38.4 percent, to 197,899, and by Joliet, which grew 38.8 percent, to 147,433.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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