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McLean County Bucks State Trend With Population Growth

Overhead view of cars driving through downtown Bloomington
Emily Bollinger
Bloomington saw a 2.6% increase in population from 2010 to 2020.

McLean County saw a population gain of less than 1% over the last decade, but the county still fared better than much of the state, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Illinois' population dropped since the 2010 census.

Raymond Lai, executive director of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, said that makes the county's population growth more impressive. “It’s encouraging for us to see, despite the overall decline on the state level, but it speaks louder how this area is attractive enough for different reasons for population growth,” Lai said.

McLean County added about 1,400 residents over the last decade, according to the data. That puts the county’s official headcount at nearly 170,954.

Lai said the population growth is a sign of a strong economic recovery from the 2008 recession and the housing crisis that followed. Lai said hiring that electric vehicle company Rivian, State Farm Insurance and other large employers have been doing will accelerate that growth. “That to me is a good sign and also it’s the beginning of probably, hopefully a surge in terms of population from 2020 on,” Lai said.

Bloomington's population grew by 2,070 or about 2.6%, putting the city's population at 78,680. Normal saw a smaller increase of 0.5%, or 239 residents. The town's population now stands at 52,736. The rest of the county had a smaller headcount than in 2010.

Lai said it's part of a national trend of urban growth at the expense of rural areas.

“Some of the folks from the rural communities may want to move closer to amenities or health care services or jobs or other reasons,” Lai said.

McLean County was one of 15 Illinois counties that grew in population from 2010 to 2020.

The U.S. Census Bureau will release more specific demographic data for communities next month.

Census data was delayed for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Census data is used to determine government funding for communities and how congressional and other legislative districts are allotted.

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