The Highest and Lowest Income Areas in Illinois

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team





Illinois boasts a diverse economy and population, yet grapples with notable income disparities across its regions. This article delves into the factors contributing to these variations, shedding light on both high and low-income areas within the state.

Factors Influencing Income Levels

Several factors play a pivotal role in determining income levels, including education, occupation, industry, location, cost of living, and household size. Generally, higher levels of education and skills correlate with increased incomes, as do occupations and industries in high demand. Location is crucial, with some areas providing more opportunities and amenities, albeit at a higher cost of living. Household size and composition also impact income, as larger households may have more earners but also incur greater expenses.

Illinois in Comparison to Other States

As per the U.S. Census Bureau, Illinois recorded a median household income of $83,386 in 2020, surpassing the national median of $67,521. Ranking 13th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for median household income, Illinois also exhibited a higher poverty rate (11.5%) compared to the national average (10.5%) in 2020.

Areas with the Highest Incomes in Illinois

The affluent regions of Illinois predominantly cluster in the northern and central parts, particularly in the suburbs of Chicago and metropolitan areas like Springfield and Champaign-Urbana. Notable ZIP codes with the highest median household incomes in 2019 include:

  • 60045 (Lake Forest): $176,108
  • 60093 (Winnetka): $173,919
  • 60521 (Hinsdale): $166,936
  • 60022 (Glencoe): $165,250
  • 60043 (Kenilworth): $164,583

These areas are characterized by prosperous communities, exceptional schools, and proximity to the vibrant economic and cultural hub of Chicago. However, they also grapple with high living costs, property taxes, and home values.

Areas with the Lowest Incomes in Illinois

Conversely, the economically challenged areas in Illinois are predominantly situated in the southern and western parts, encompassing rural counties and urban centers such as East St. Louis, Cairo, and Rockford. Notable ZIP codes with the lowest median household incomes in 2019 include:

  • 62914 (Cairo): $16,667
  • 62201 (East St. Louis): $17,500
  • 62988 (Tamms): $18,750
  • 62995 (Vienna): $19,375
  • 62906 (Anna): $20,000

These regions grapple with high poverty rates, unemployment, crime, and social issues, coupled with lower levels of education, health, and infrastructure. Challenges like population decline, environmental degradation, and a lack of economic opportunities further compound their struggles.

Implications of Income Inequality

Income inequality, reflecting uneven income distribution within a population, can have multifaceted impacts on economic, social, and political spheres. Potential effects include diminished economic growth and efficiency, increased social problems and conflicts, and weakened democratic institutions and governance.

Addressing Income Inequality

Addressing income inequality necessitates a comprehensive approach. Strategies may include:

  • Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
  • Investing in education and skills development.
  • Strengthening social protection and safety nets.
  • Enhancing fiscal and tax policies.
  • Fostering social dialogue and participation.


Illinois, marked by a rich and diverse economy, experiences significant income disparities. These differences stem from various factors, including education, occupation, industry, location, cost of living, and household size. While high-income areas concentrate in the north and central regions, low-income areas predominate in the south and west.

Income inequality poses challenges across economic, social, and political realms, demanding a comprehensive approach for mitigation. By prioritizing inclusive economic growth, education, social protection, fiscal policies, and community engagement, Illinois can reduce income inequality and enhance the well-being of all residents.


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