Sep 21, 2023 - News

Census data: Michigan is getting older

Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

The median age of people living in Michigan rose from 36.9 in 2005 to 40.3 in 2022, data released last week by the Census Bureau's American Community Survey shows.

Why it matters: Local researchers have been warning lawmakers that aging populations can have huge implications on the state's future tax base and workforce.

Zoom out: Michigan and Wisconsin (40.4) have the oldest residents in the Midwest — Ohio (39.9), Illinois (39) and Indiana (38.2).

  • Michigan is among 17 states with a median age above 40, and no states experienced a decrease in median age.
  • The Detroit/Warren/Dearborn area's median age is 40.1 years, up from 35.5 in 2000, according to the most recent census data.

Zoom in: About 14% of Detroiters are older than 65. People in that age group make up 22% of Highland Park residents, 12.5% of Dearborn residents and 21.3% of Grosse Pointe residents.

  • That demographic decreases in many college towns like Allendale (5%) or East Lansing (8.9%).

What they're saying: "Michigan is demographically a very baby boomer-heavy state. That's a high concentration of our population and those people are aging out of the workforce, and that's trouble," Ani Turner of Altarum, a research organization that released several reports forecasting Michigan's future this year, tells Axios.

  • "I don't understand why it is that Michigan can't attract young educated or young people, period," Kurt Metzger, the former director of Data Driven Detroit who previously worked in the U.S. Census Bureau, tells Axios. "We need to change the age distribution so we have more people in the younger working years, and we need that desperately — we've bottomed out in the core working age group."

Catch up quick: Michigan's leaders have been thinking of ways to grow the state's lagging population compared with the rest of the country. From 2000 to 2020, only West Virginia grew slower than Michigan.

Yes, but: She's received criticism for failing to appoint more than one person younger than 40 to the committee tasked with retaining young people.

The latest: The governor's office is standing by John Rakolta Jr., the Republican co-chair leading the council.

  • A Detroit News investigation found that Rakolta, also the chair of his family's construction company, used his connections to win a no-bid $178 million contract to prep a factory site in the Marshall area with little oversight.
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