Chicago is officially nerdier than the suburbs

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Videos by Rare

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Chicago’s and Illinois’s  population trends seem to be all over the place these days.

Last month, Illinois got demoted out of the top five most populous states in the country, as Pennsylvania now has more people according to the US Census Bureau.

And that’s not just a downstate issue: Chicago was the only major metropolitan area to lose population from 2015-16.

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But on the plus side, despite perpetual issues with school funding, Chicago has been increasing its educated population.

Yesterday, Chicago Magazine revealed that the city has a higher number of residents with a college degree than the surrounding suburbs for the first time ever. And it’s been a drastic growth.

In 1990, only 19% of residents in Chicago had a college degree. In 2016, that number reached 39%. The metropolitan area recorded 37% of residents with a college degree in 2016.

Part of this can be explained by the reverse trend of younger people flocking to cities instead of fleeing them as in decades past. In particular, the majority of jobs in Chicago are now in the Central Business District for the first time ever.

According to the data from the Chicago Fed’s Midwest Economy blog, there is a higher percentage of Chicago residents aged 25-years or older with a college degree than the six other highest populated cities in the country, including New York and Los Angeles.

However, the primary issue is that of equitable education across races. Chicago Magazine points out that 63% of white residents in Chicago have a bachelor’s degree. The only other major city in the US with a higher percentage is San Francisco with 77%.

But only 21% of black residents in Chicago have a college degree. And only 16% of Latino residents. Both of those numbers are in the top 9 out of 15 cities for those demographics.

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CPS enrollment data has also revealed that there is a decreasing number of black students in Chicago schools.

A previous demographic study pointed out that although roughly 42,000 African-American residents have left Chicago overall, the city has gained 18,000 African-American residents with college degrees. This is the largest gain out of the top ten cities with black residents.

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