CAIRO, Ill. -- New census estimates show that more than half of Illinois' 102 counties have more deaths than births. The census calls it a "natural decrease" that in many cases reflects an aging population.
Statewide, Illinois had more births than deaths -- 140,684 to be exact -- from April 2010 to July of last year. But 58 counties saw the opposite, and that combined with the departure of young adults chasing opportunities elsewhere contributed to population declines for many of those counties.
The latest census numbers show long-struggling Alexander County in far southern Illinois lost a state-leading 5.9 percent of its population. Pope County, in southeastern Illinois along the Ohio River, saw its population fall by 4.4 percent.
Illinois' population stayed flat, at about 12.9 million.