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Black Cook County residents are opting out and migrating to warmer climates or surrounding suburban areas, a new U.S. Census survey shows.

In 2015, Cook County, which includes areas of Chicago, Indiana and Wisconsin, recorded the largest Black population in the country. But between 2014 and 2015, more than 9,000 Black residents have transitioned in a large exodus.

Roosevelt Johnson, 47, told the Chicago Tribune that the hustle and bustle of the city no longer appealed to him. He moved to neighboring Lake County 10 years ago when he noticed dwindling resources and higher rents.

“It became a rat race of having to try to get from Point A to Point B with raising our family. Making sure everyone is in the place they need to be, despite escalating costs. It became too much for us to handle,” he said.

Since 2010, the area has lost more than 35,000 Black residents and is the greatest exit recorded than any major metropolis in the country. It remains the largest county with a Black population at 1.3 million.

The Tribune writes:

Chicago itself lost 181,000 black residents between 2000 and 2010, according to census data. The numbers are indicative of a larger pattern of Illinois’ general population loss, which dropped by 22,194 residents between 2014 and 2015. The Chicago metropolitan statistical area, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the city and suburbs that extend into Wisconsin and Indiana, lost an estimated 6,263 residents between 2014 and 2015, the area’s first population dip since at least 1990.

The search for stable incomes, safe neighborhoods and prosperity – fueled by the great recession of 2010 – created a slow migration pattern to the Chicago area. Many are flocking to the south mainly because of economic opportunities and affordable housing.

William Frey, a demographer from Brookings Institute, dubbed this cycle, “reverse migration.”

Atlanta had the greatest population gain in 2015 of Black residents, with 198,031 flocking to take a bite of resources. Frey says there’s another appeal, especially for Black millennials—moving south offers a chance to reconnect with a new culture and southern identities. Many come from families who were rooted in the south, and moved to the north during the great migration.

Researchers say that the great migration, has lasting affects on the remaining Black population as many affluent and middle-class Black families leave the area in droves.

“You lose that healthy mix of incomes in the community, which can be problematic for the families still living there, in terms of investment and reinvestment and circulating dollars,” said Stephanie Schmitz Bechteler, Director of Research and Evaluation at the Chicago Urban League. “I’d never fault a family for leaving, but it does present challenges for the community they leave behind.”

Johnson told the Tribune that the conditions in Chicago’s predominately Black areas, like the south side where violence is steadily peaking, weren’t created in a vacuum. He knows first hand of the circumstances since he is from the area.

“If a human being doesn’t have the ability to provide for him or himself they become desperate, and that’s when these areas become dangerous,” he said. “I think it’s very unfortunate. It’s creating a dangerous culture of individuals. If I didn’t have a job, if I had little education and I’m hungry … I’ll become a desperate individual.”

SOURCES: Chicago Tribune | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty


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