February 15, 2011 | Chicago Business | Original Article

Hispanics lead Illinois census shifts

Beneath the surface of the state's paltry 3.3% growth rate lie some dramatic shifts in the population of Illinois, census data released Tuesday revealed. The Hispanic population of Illinois grew by 32.5% from 2000 to 2010, an increase of nearly half a million people, to 2,027,578. The number of Hispanics old enough to vote grew to 1,304,397, or 13.4% of all voters in Illinois, up from 10.7% in 2000.

Hispanics now comprise 15.8% of the state population overall. The Asian population grew at an even faster rate: up 38.3% to 580,586 people, a gain of 160,670. They now comprise 4.5% of the state's population.

Whites accounted for 63.7% of Illinois' population, down from 67.8% a decade earlier, while the black population also declined, falling by 1.3% to account for 14.3% of the 2010 population. Overall, the state count increased by only 411,339 people, bringing total population to 12,830,632 - with the growth anything but evenly distributed.

Outlying cities such as Aurora and Joliet each increased by more than 38%, while Chicago lost 200,418 residents, a 6.9% drop to 2,695,598. Cook County's population declined 3.4% to 5,194,675 residents, a loss of 182,066.

Will County grew 34.9% to 677,560 people, an increase of 175,294, while Kendall County more than doubled in size to 114,736, making it the state's 16th-largest county, up from 26th place in 2000. Those population shifts are likely to shake up the state's electoral map. While Illinois didn't lose population overall, it will lose a seat in Congress because many other states grew faster.