For several years now, Illinois has been at or near the top on a list of states that are steadily and heavily losing their populations. The biggest reason for leaving Illinois for most of the people who've departed can be boiled down to a single word: Taxes.

Illinois' tax environment hasn't changed for the better (some would say it's gotten worse, if anything), but the amount of Illinois residents who are leaving the state has slowed down somewhat.

Illinois is now #5 in the United States when it comes to residents heading for the exits, having lost 344,000 (while gaining 228,000) residents to other states in 2022. The top 4, including the number of residents lost, would be these states:

  • California (817,700)
  • New York (545,600)
  • Texas (494,000)
  • Florida (489,900)

We know that Illinoisans are still leaving, but did you know that the majority who wave goodbye to the Land of Lincoln are primarily ending up in 3 states? Only one of those states isn't a neighbor of Illinois.

This is what happens when you leave Illinois in the winter. (Getty Images)
This is what happens when you leave Illinois in the winter. (Getty Images)

Most People Think That Those Who Leave Illinois Are Doing It Because Of Our Weather, So They're Obviously Moving To The Warmest, Sunniest Places They Can Find, Right?

I'm sorry to have to tell you that it's not just warmth and sunshine that departing Illinoisans are looking for. It certainly doesn't hurt, since the number-one destination for Illinois' movers with 35,000 former Illinoisans moving there in the last 12 months is...

Low angle tropical plants with a welcome sign to hot weather
Getty Images

In Florida's case, the great weather (except for your occasional killer hurricane) is a bonus, but many Illinoisans who've moved there say no state income tax, along with better job opportunities are what drew them to Florida.

The next two Illinois population-stealing states are our direct neighbors, and I know for a fact that they can't claim better weather than we have here in Illinois:

Getty Images
Getty Images

In 2022, Indiana absorbed 31,000 Illinois residents who were looking to make a fresh start.

Wisconsin welcomes you sign at he state border
Getty Images

While Wisconsin took 27,300 Illinois residents off our hands in 2022...and probably closed the deal by addicting them to cheese curds and cheddar hats. Ruthless.

About 25 thousand former Illinoisans headed for California, and another 25,000 went to Texas. Missouri took 20,000 and Iowa grabbed up 16,500. Kentucky wound up with around 6,000.

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