Census data shows Michigan’s population grew and diversified, Detroit lost residents

By: - August 12, 2021 3:55 pm

Census 2020 data for Michigan population density | U.S. Census Bureau

Michigan’s population increased slowly over the past decade and became increasingly more diverse, but the population of Detroit decreased for the seventh decade in a row, according to 2020 U.S. Census data released Thursday. 

Michigan’s population, which is now nearly 10.1 million people, grew by just 2% since the 2010 Census, making it one of the slowest growing states in the country. 

The only state with a slower population growth was Connecticut, and Illinois, Mississippi and West Virginia all decreased in population over the last decade. 

The U.S. as a whole saw slow population growth since the last decennial census.  

The 2020 Census marked the second slowest population growth in the nation’s history at just 7.4%.

“Many counties within metro areas saw growth, especially those in the south and west. However, as we’ve been seeing in our annual population estimates, our nation is growing slower than it used to,” said Marc Perry, a senior demographer at the Census Bureau. 

Nationwide, the population of U.S. metro areas grew by 9% from 2010 to 2020, resulting in 86% of the population living in U.S. metro areas in 2020, compared to 85% in 2010.

However, that wasn’t the case for Detroit. 

Detroit’s population declined by 10.5% over the last decade, dropping from  713,777 in 2010 to 639,111 in 2020. 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan isn’t convinced that the U.S. Census Bureau has an accurate count of the city’s residents, a claim that he and U.S. Rashida Tlaib made in October. 

“This is exactly what Rep. Tlaib and I predicted on October 28 when we were joined by Census workers who shared their stories about how Detroit neighborhoods were being undercounted and were upset that the count was shut down a month before originally planned,” Duggan said in a press release Thursday. 

According to the recent Census data, Detroit has only 254,000 occupied households, but Duggan says that Detroit-based DTE Electric Co. reports that nearly 280,000 residential households are currently paying electric bills. 

“At a minimum, the Census somehow failed to count 25,000 occupied houses with running electricity,” Duggan said. “It appears the Census Bureau has undercounted Detroit’s population by at least 10%. We will be pursuing our legal remedies to get Detroit an accurate count.”

Wayne County as a whole has seen a decrease in population, although remaining the most populous county in the state, with a 1.5% decrease since 2010.

Fifty of Michigan’s 83 counties saw a decrease in population, which follows a national trend of population loss at the local level. 

According to the Census Bureau, around 52% of counties in the United States saw their 2020 census populations decrease from their 2010 census populations.

Many of the state’s counties that saw population loss this past decade are the rural counties in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Michigan.  

The five Michigan counties that saw the greatest percent of population growth are Ottawa, Grand Traverse, Kent, Allegan and Washtenaw counties. 

Michigan’s population is more diverse than 10 years ago

Michigan’s race and diversity index, which shows the probability that two people chosen at random will be from different race and ethnic groups, has increased since 2010. 

According to the 2020 data, Michigan’s race and diversity index is 45.2%, which increased from 39.1% in 2010. 

About 72% of Michigan’s population is white, 13.5% of the population is Black and 5.6% of the population is Hispanic or Latino. 

The total white population shrank for the first time in the nation’s history, falling from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020, though the white population continues to be the most prevalent racial or ethnic group in the country. 

“The U.S. population is much more multiracial and much more racially and ethnically diverse than what we have measured in the past,” said Nicholas Jones, director and senior advisor for race and ethnicity research and outreach at the Census Bureau.

What does the latest Census data mean for Michigan?

The 2020 census had a challenging year with the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a delay in census data from the U.S. Census Bureau, pushing back the date to deliver the redistricting data to the states from late March to  Sept. 30.

The data that was released Thursday is in a “legacy” format, meaning it’s more difficult for average users to access, but will help states begin drawing the new district maps for the 2022 election.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC), a panel of 13 Michigan residents — four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents — is dependent on the census data to draw the state’s new U.S. House and state House and Senate district lines. The panel’s deadline is Nov. 1 to have its plans finalized. 

The MICRC mapping consultant said Thursday he anticipates having a statewide database of the data put together in the coming week

In April, the Census Bureau announced that Michigan will lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, dropping from 14 congressional seats to 13, due to slow population growth.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.