This Illinois city is growing, but these 7 are shrinking: analysis

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(NEXSTAR) — Does it feel like there are more people in your city than there were a few years ago? Depending on where you live, that might actually be the case — 228,000 people did move into Illinois last year.

SmartAsset, a financial tech company, has released a list of the fastest-growing cities with populations over 100,000 in the United States. That growth was based on the population difference reported by the U.S. Census between 2017 and 2022 for the 344 largest cities.

Southwestern cities, many of them desert suburbs, dominated the top of the list, SmartAsset found.

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While you may think a city like Los Angeles or New York City would be at the top, it was Buckeye, Arizona, that has seen the largest growth since 2017. Located roughly 35 miles west of the heart of Phoenix, Buckeye’s population grew by roughly 48%, going from about 68,000 to 105,500 in 2022.

Enterprise, Nevada, grew by 46% and Goodyear, Arizona surged by 27%, rounding out the top three.

Here in Illinois, only Joliet experienced growth over the last five years, albeit meager. According to SmartAsset, the city’s population grew from 147,150 in 2017 to 147,696, a less than 1% increase.

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The table below, courtesy of SmartAsset, shows the cities where the population grew — and shrank — since 2017.

“In general we’ve seen positive growth indicators in the southwest besides just population,” said Jaclyn DeJohn, Managing Editor of Economic Analysis at SmartAsset. “In fact, Texas and Arizona place second and fourth respectively in terms of where high earners are moving to. One thing that may be drawing high earners and others to these areas is relative tax-friendliness and lower costs of living than coastal California and major cities.”

It wasn’t all growth across Illinois, though (more than 344,000 residents did leave the state last year).

According to SmartAsset’s analysis, seven Illinois cities saw their populations decrease between 2017 and 2022.

The hardest hit was Aurora, which saw a 10% decrease in population over the analyzed time frame. Nearby Elgin’s population decreased by just over 4%, while Peoria saw a 5.5% dip in population.

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Naperville saw the lowest decrease, losing only about 80 residents between 2017 and 2022. Others shrank by less than 2%: Springfield (-1.2%), Rockford (-1.7%) and Chicago (-1.9%).

Over 120 cities analyzed saw a dip in population between 2017 and 2022. That includes many major cities, such as Salt Lake City, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Portland, Houston, New York City, Des Moines, San Diego, Boulder, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.

The hardest hit was Paradise, Nevada — the Las Vegas-adjacent town lost 21% of its population, according to SmartAsset’s analysis. Others at the bottom of the list were Jackson, Mississippi (-10.4%); Aurora, Illinois (-9.4%), and Highlands Ranch, Colorado (-8.4%).


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