Illinois' population fell by more than any other state in 2016, down 37,508 people, according to census data released in December.
Chicago's population drop is part of a larger pattern of slowed urban growth in 2016. The country's top cities did not see the same surge as in previous years, experts say.
During the recession of 2008, families chose to stay in or move to core urban areas, and migration to the suburbs decelerated. Now, as families recover economically, they're deciding it's time to move back to the suburbs — a trend experts say may keep city populations where they are for the next few years.
Illinoisans in recent years have flocked to Sun Belt states, such as Texas, Arizona and Florida, contributing to the local population loss. During the years after the recession, migration to those states slowed, but then it heated up again as states in the South and West had greater job opportunities and affordable housing.