For nearly five decades, Illinois issued more permits for single-family homes than Indiana – with a blip in 1980 when Indiana built more homes. That was to be expected because Illinois has nearly double the population.
But the situation flipped in 2009, and during the past decade Indiana issued 30,508 more home permits than Illinois.
Illinois averaged around 40,000 permits a year prior to the Great Recession. In 2018 Illinois saw that plunge to only 10,000 permits issued for new single-family homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That 75% plunge is the worst decline of any state in the nation. Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri have all seen more single-family home construction than Illinois for three years running.
Even when including permits for new multi-unit housing, Illinois’ drop is still the worst in the nation, declining to 21,500 units in 2018 from a yearly average of 58,100 prior to the recession. In 2018, Indiana saw nearly 21,500 new units with a population half as large. Colorado saw 42,600.
What’s to blame for so few new homes in Illinois? One of the biggest factors is sky-high property tax bills, two major income tax hikes during the past decade and working-age population loss that has caused demand for Illinois homes – and therefore housing prices – to remain weak.
Property taxes are a significant pain point in Illinois, where homeowners suffer the second-highest tax bills in the country. Unfortunately, Illinois politicians have for years failed to confront the root cause of tax increases: Pension costs.
Until Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other state leaders build support for constitutional pension reform, Indiana and other neighbors will continue sawing away at Illinois’ demand for homes.