Oct 4, 2023 - News

Michigan's population fell again last year

Detroit metro area change in estimated population, 2021–2022
Data: U.S. Census; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Michigan lost approximately 30,000 people from 2021 to 2022, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Why it matters: Michigan was among 14 states that lost residents from 2021-22, and our population is growing slower than most.

Catch up quick: State leaders are working on solutions, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointing a population czar and creating a bipartisan commission to identify a population goal.

  • But some, including one of the area's leading population experts, still have their doubts on the prospective effectiveness of the 28-member body.

What they're saying: "I was excited when it was announced, even though it was vague, I was excited when finally the state showed any interest in population," Kurt Metzger​​, the former director of Data Driven Detroit who previously worked for the Census Bureau, tells Axios. "But I was always suspicious of what they were talking about."

  • "Identifying a population goal is setting the commission up for failure," Metzger says.

The other side: "Gov. Whitmer believes in making Michigan the kind of state where individuals from every walk of life feel like they belong and have the opportunity to build a successful life here," a spokesperson for the governor tells Axios.

The intrigue: We dropped from 10.05 million people in 2021 to 10.03 in 2022, census data shows.

Zoom in: Metro Detroit had 4,365,205 residents in 2021 and 4,345,761 in 2022, a 0.4% decrease.

  • Wayne County's decline of 16,030 people from 2020-22 is the seventh-worst drop of any county in the nation during that time span.

Between the lines: "Michigan ranks 15th overall in total foreign-born population — we need younger immigrants," Metzger says. "We need educated immigrants and we also need lower-educated immigrants to do a lot of the work our aging white population doesn't want to do."

Context: Arab Americans now make up a majority of the residents of Dearborn for the first time, and Michigan's total Middle Eastern population has surpassed 300,000 residents, the Free Press reports.

  • The data represents how the area has been able to grow as an outlier while the surrounding population around the county and state has declined.
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