CHICAGO (CBS) – Sometimes household chores require reinforcements, like the junk removal crews you're about to meet.
Spring cleaning projects are booking up the schedule, but as CBS 2's Lauren Victory explained, there's another serious reason that's keeping the company busy.
Literally tossing unwanted furniture, like a decades-old recliner, and other belongings is the bread and butter for The Junk Removal Dudes. The pivoting professionals said a job like the one CBS 2 recently tagged along on barely scratches the surface of their work.
"In a busy day, we'll do anywhere from like 15 to 20 houses and it's weird because this started off as like a hobby," said Alex Broches, owner of The Junk Removal Dudes.
Broches' side hustle with an SUV and a trailer grew into a full-blown business. His crews clear away all sorts of clutter in DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, and Cook counties.
They regularly tackle hoarding situations.
"I don't know what I can say on air," Broches said. "I've seen a lot of stuff over the years."
Some of the junk gets donated, but most gets trashed. They've cleaned out more than 1,000 homes so far his year. Job after job gets loaded onto their big trucks.
"And then go to the landfill at the end of the day so our system is much more efficient, quicker, and also, because of this, we can charge a little bit less on the price," Broches said.
Business is booming and not just because of Broches' entrepreneurial acumen. More and more customers are calling for a specific reason: moveouts because people are leaving the state.
"You know, taxes here in Illinois are crazy," said customer Kelly Smaltz.
Smaltz and her husband were headed abroad for work. Finances played into the decision to depart for them and for friends.
"Of our group, probably 10 of us are leaving or have left Illinois just because, it's just, taxwise, a very difficult place to live," she said.
Population loss, as calculated by the 2020 U.S. Census, recently cost Illinois a congressional seat.
The Junk Removal Dudes customer John Simon isn't relocating, but CBS 2 learned he teaches about the census at Northern Illinois University.
"Every House seat should represent about 761,000 people," Simon said.
If you divide Illinois' roughly 12.8 million people by that number …
"We should have 16.5 seats in the House of Representatives and it's a very complex formula for rounding, but we're fortunate enough to be rounded up to 17 seats," Simon explained.
That's down from 18 seats. It's not just that Illinois residents are moving out, but not enough people are moving in.
"Illinois wound up losing a congressional seat because the population stagnated," Simon said.
The Junk Removal Dudes are paying attention.
"I'm trying to figure out what the future holds, not only for my business, but other business owners as well," Broches said.
Before the pandemic, about 30% of customers were leaving the Land of Lincoln, but now, it's up to more than half.
"It's sad but it's the reality of what's happening," Smaltz said.
That means piles of junk, and people, are on the move.
Illinois lost only 0.1% of its population between 2010 and 2020, but the country as a whole gained 7%. So other areas took on the congressional seat that Illinois lost.
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