Apr 10, 2023 - News

Wayne County's population decline among nation's worst

Change in Michigan population, 2020 to 2022
Explore this interactive map. Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

More people left Wayne County than any other county in Michigan between 2020 and 2022, according to new U.S. Census data.

  • Wayne County's decline of 16,030 people in that time span is the seventh-worst drop of any county in the nation.

Why it matters: Mayor Mike Duggan made population growth in Detroit — Wayne County's largest city — a priority when he first took office.

Zoom in: Counties like the U.P.'s Keweenaw (+5.4%), Montmorency (+4.4%), Lake (+4.1%) Crawford (+3.8%) and Leelanau (+2.5%) saw the highest population growth among U.S. states between 2020 and 2022.

  • Wayne County (-1.8%), Washtenaw County (-1.5%) and Gratiot County (-1.4%) suffered the most population loss.

The big picture: Detroit is the only American city that's had a population over 1 million, then dropped back below. It had 1.8 million people in 1950, 1 million in 1990, and now has less than 670,000.

  • The past few years have been especially turbulent for population trends, with the pandemic affecting birth and death rates, interstate and international migration, and more.

The intrigue: While growth was concentrated in Southeast Michigan in the 2010s, Livingston was the only Southeast Michigan county to see population increases over the last two years.

  • The areas surrounding Grand Rapids and Traverse City continue to grow.

The bottom line: Keeping people here is a priority for both the mayor of Michigan's largest city and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

  • But how do we do that? What strategies should the state be using to retain residents?

📫 Email [email protected] to let us know. You could be included in an upcoming story as part of our series focusing on what state and city leaders need to do to make Michigan the best place to live.

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