Chicago's population fell 6.9% during the decade that ended in 2010, leaving it with fewer people than lived there in 1920. The US Census Bureau reports a population of 2,695,598 people, just under the 2.7 million that were reported nearly a century ago, the Wall Street Journal reports. The recession is likely to blame for a significant migration to the suburbs and the South; even so, Chicago is expected to remain the third-largest city in the nation behind New York and Los Angeles.
The Windy City's population peaked at 3.62 million in 1950, then declined for years until it experienced a boom in the 1990s. This most recent decline affected the city's black population more than most; it fell from more than 1 million to 887,608. "The black decline is really powering the city loss," says a demographer, calling it "part of the great reverse migration to the South." As Chicago's population fell, however, the population in neighboring counties surged—which could mean those traditionally conservative counties will become more politically diverse.