Illinois is now officially the 6th largest U.S. state, after shedding tens of thousands of people

Welcome to Illinois, the newly-titled sixth-largest U.S. state.

With Pennsylvania gaining more than 18,000 people and Illinois shedding record numbers, the Keystone State has officially overcome Illinois as the fifth-largest state in terms of population.

According to Census data released Wednesday, Illinois lost 33,703 in total population. That’s a greater population decline than any other state in America.

Domestically, Illinois saw more people head for the door than any time in the last decade. More than 114,000 net people left for other states.

“The population loss that Illinois is experiencing is accelerating,” said Pete Borsella, demographer at U.S. Census. “In the period between 2016 and 2017, they have seen the largest net out-migration of the decade.”

This is the fourth consecutive year of population losses for Illinois. Only West Virginia has seen a longer trend of population decline.

In the argument of why Illinois is bleeding people, many point to the weather pushing people south. While that is consistent with part of the migration data provided by the IRS, Illinois is also pouring residents into its neighboring states as well. Indiana welcomed more than 8,000 Illinois residents between 2015 and 2016, for example.

In the Census data released Wednesday, all of Illinois’ neighboring states gained population.

A recent poll of Illinoisans by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University found that high taxes are the biggest reason for leaving the state.

North Carolina-based realtor Angela Kirsch has used this sentiment to create a niche. The former suburban Chicago resident markets her services at getoutofillinois.com. She and her husband lure Illinoisans to more tax-friendly climates using social media. According to her, business is booming.

“I’ve had a lot of people contacting me about how to get out of Illinois,” she said. “The calls have picked up since the tax hike this summer.”

She’s referring to Illinois lawmakers overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a state budget that raises an additional $5 billion in personal and corporate income taxes.

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