RPC Analyzes Survey Data Showing Champaign County with the Second-Largest Population Growth Among the 102 Counties in Illinois

The corner of Sixth and Green in Champaign

Champaign County was one of only nine counties among the 102 counties in the state of Illinois to see an increase in population between 2010 and 2019, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015-2019 American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, which were released in December 2020. The estimates are not based on the results of the 2020 Census, which are not yet available.

The RPC has analyzed recent ACS estimates to provide a look at how the population of Champaign County is changing. The following trends compare five-year estimates from 2010-14 and 2015-19:

  • Champaign County’s population is now 209,922, an increase of almost 3% since the 2010-14 ACS. Kendall County in northeast Illinois was the only county in Illinois to see a higher rate of population gain during the same period.
  • The median family income in Champaign County increased by 17%, from $70,155 to $82,423.  The national median family income increased by a similar amount of 18% during this time, but Champaign County’s median family income is higher than the national figure of $77,263.  Additionally, the population below the poverty level in Champaign County fell from 23% to 20%.  This 3% drop is greater than the 2% decrease nationally.
  • The mean travel time to work in Champaign County was unchanged at 17.7 minutes, remaining lower than nearby counties (18.4 minutes in Peoria County and 19.6 minutes in Sangamon County). Peoria County actually saw its mean travel time to work increase.
  • The percentage of Champaign County residents who use active modes of transportation to get to work is significantly higher than nearby counties. In Champaign County, 8% of residents walk to work, 5.7% use public transportation, and 2.3% bike. The combined 16% of Champaign County residents who walk, bike, or use public transit to get to work is higher than the combined rates of 5.8% in McLean County, 4.5% in Peoria County, 3.6% in Sangamon County, and 3.1% in Macon County.
  • The percentage of Champaign County residents who drove to work increased from 77% to 79%. However, this rate is significantly lower than the driving-to-work rates in nearby counties (89% in McLean County, 91% in Peoria and Sangamon Counties, and 93% in Macon County).

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as from other national, state, and local resources, is available on the Champaign County Regional Data Portal.

“These trends highlight the continued need for smart and coordinated planning among communities in Champaign County to meet the needs of a growing population,” says RPC planner Gabe Lewis. “Part of the RPC’s mission is to plan improvements for economic conditions, environment, and development within our region. The RPC is available to provide these planning services and address inquiries about trends.”

The RPC will continue to monitor updated population data as new estimates become available, including the results of the 2020 Census. The ACS provides social, economic, housing, and demographic information about American communities every year, whereas the decennial Census provides the official count of the entire U.S. population every 10 years. Since the 2020 Census response window was extended due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau was unable to meet its original deadlines of releasing the new numbers. Detailed 2020 Census results, such as populations at the county level and smaller, are scheduled for release by September 2021.

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