By Kurt Metzger
Editor’s note: The Center this week begins a series of comments from Kurt Metzger of Data Driven Detroit on what the 2010 census results mean for Michigan today, and tomorrow. Metzger worked for the U.S. Census Bureau for 15 years and has been studying demographic data and issues in Michigan for three decades.
It was late December of 2010 when we received the not-so-surprising news that Michigan was going to lose a congressional seat based on the results of the 2010 census. But we were not prepared for the news we had actually lost population between 2000 and 2010. To add insult to injury, we were told that we were the ONLY state to lose population. Even Rhode Island, which had shared our high unemployment rates and falling population over the last several years, sneaked by with a 0.4 percent gain for the decade.
We had to wait until late March 2011 to learn anything more from the 2010 census. What did we get for our patience? A close look at Michigan’s growing diversity, for starters.
As can be seen in Table 1, Michigan’s population loss was driven by the decrease in the white, non-Hispanic population, resulting from increasing deaths, with increasing age, decreasing births and a large out-migration driven by the economy. This resulted in a decrease in white, non-Hispanic representation from 79 percent of the population to 76.6 percent.
The non-Hispanic African-American population also experienced loss, primarily due to lower birth rates and out-migration. The loss of 125,000 brought their representation in the state from 14.2 percent to 14 percent. The Native American and Pacific Islander populations each experienced very slight (less than 2 percent) increases.
The growing groups in the state, stimulated by both immigration and higher birth rates, were the Asian and Hispanic/Latino populations. Each experienced an increase of just under 35 percent, though the Latino numerical growth was almost twice that of Asians (112,500 and 61,200, respectively).
The title of fastest-growing group by percent was the multiracial group. The major factors associated with this growth is the rapidly growing trend of interracial marriage and the increasing recognition of, and identification with, the multiple backgrounds we each bring to the table. Future articles will “tease” out the distribution of these responses and will explore the fastest growing segment of multiracial respondents: children.
Only 44 of Michigan’s 83 counties experienced population growth over the decade. Only seven of these gained more than 10,000 residents and only three gained more than 25,000.
Top honors went to Macomb County with an increase of 52,858. Most of this increase occurred during the first half of the decade, stimulated by Detroiters moving north and Oakland County residents heading east.
Numbers 2 and 3 take us along Interstate 96 to the west side of the state for Kent and Ottawa counties, both in the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area (a census term). Kent County’s growing economy brought in-migrants, while Ottawa continued to see economic growth coupled with growth from suburban sprawl. Livingston County, again in the Detroit MSA, grew as its location welcomed sprawl from the Detroit urban core to its east, from Washtenaw County to the south and the Lansing area to the west.
While 39 counties lost population, only four lost more than 5,000 residents. All four were manufacturing-based central counties of MSAs: Berrien (-5,678), Saginaw (-9,882), Genesee (-10,423) and Wayne County (-240,596). Wayne County’s loss was the most of any county in the country, including Katrina-ravaged Orleans Parish, La.
Obviously the tremendous out-migration from Detroit, which lost more than 237,000 residents (25 percent) during the decade, was the major reason for Wayne’s decrease. However, several of its other communities, Canton Township in particular, experienced growth that placed them near the top of all communities across the state.
The interplay of “shrinking cities” and growing townships and villages is a phenomenon that we will explore in future installments. While many smaller cities experienced growth, the losses in the larger urban cores resulted in an overall city loss of almost 330,000 residents. But only a relatively small share of that group left Michigan, the vast majority (almost 300,000) took up residence in villages and suburban and exurban townships.
To learn more about Metzger’s work, visit www.datadrivendetroit.org.
And check back to the Center’s website Friday for another round of newsletter stories on the issues critical to Michigan’s future.