Census: Chicago's population drops third year in a row

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's population has decreased for the third consecutive year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Chicago lost about 3,800 residents last year but remains the third-largest city in the U.S., with 2.7 million residents, according to census estimates released Wednesday.

"While the loss is minor from the standpoint of the city's total population, consistent population decline is a clear sign that the city is deficient in areas that typically attract and retain residents, investments and other products of healthy economic factors," said Alden Loury, director of research at the Metropolitan Planning Council.

The figures illustrate population trends that have been happening over the past few years, such as African Americans leaving the city, immigration slowing and wealthier people moving in, said Rob Paral, a Chicago-based demographer.

While jobs have been added to the area, the economy hasn't been growing as quickly, said Aseal Tineh, an associate policy analyst for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning.

"Chicago hasn't been able to recover as quickly as our peer regions," she said. "That is a pretty big role in the population change."

Of the five largest cities - New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix - only Chicago saw a population drop, according to census figures.

The downward population trend has led some experts to question if Chicago will be surpassed in population by Houston. The Texas city is the fourth-most populous in the country and grew by about 8,200 residents last year to 2.3 million, according to census figures.

Houston's population growth has slowed and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey may slow growth in the future, said William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a research institution.

The Chicago region is also expected to reverse the population loss and grow through 2030, Loury said.

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