Michigan losing population again, after decade of tepid growth, Census shows
The COVID-19 pandemic hit many Michigan counties hard, helping fuel population losses statewide in 2020 and 2021, according to U.S. Census estimates released this week.
But for population centers including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, the bigger driver was simply people leaving for other counties and states, the data shows.
Wayne County’s population fell by about 1 percent overall to 1.77 million, and an estimated 15,857 residents left the county for another part of Michigan or the country.
The estimates reverse what had been slow, steady growth in Michigan, which was the only state in the nation to lose population from 2000 to 2010.
The state crested 10 million again in 2020, but has lost an estimated 26,000 residents since, including nearly 17,000 between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, according to the estimates.
Many of those losses can be attributed to the nearly 13,000 residents who died of COVID-19 in that time, with the pandemic exacerbating the growing imbalance between deaths and births in the state.
In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, 49 of Michigan’s 83 counties recorded more deaths than births. From 2020 to 2021, 77 counties had more deaths than births.
Still, west and northern Michigan recorded modest gains, as those regions had when the decennial 2020 Census was reported last year.
The state’s fastest growing county, Ottawa, added an estimated 2,370 people, while Livingston County added 1,041. They were the only two counties to add at least 1,000 residents.
In contrast, 44 of the 254 counties in Texas added at least 1,000 people, including 10 that added between 10,800 and 36,000.
In 2019, nine states were losing population nationwide, while Michigan was still growing (albeit slowly, by about 2,800 people).
In 2021, 17 states and the District of Columbia were estimated to be losing population, including Michigan. In Michigan, seven of the Upper Peninsula’s 15 counties lost population, all in the central part of the U.P., while 26 of the Lower Peninsula’s 68 counties lost population, including every county in Southeast Michigan from north of Bay City to the Ohio border, except for Livingston, Monroe and Sanilac Counties.
DANIEL D DOWNING says
It is expensive to live here. Indirect taxes and service fees on utilities, ever-increasing property taxes, and the semi-harsh winters get folks looking to warmer cheaper pastures.
David Waymire says
That’s factually incorrect. If you look at the conservative Tax Foundation’s web site, you will see that Michigan’s state and local tax burden combined is fifth lowest in the nation. https://taxfoundation.org/publications/state-local-tax-burden-rankings/#:~:text=Conclusion-,Key%20Findings,accounts%20for%20this%20tax%20exporting.
Steve Pestka says
i would suggest the following. we spend about four to five months in palm beach every winter. most of our neighbors there are from the east cost, many spend just over six months in florida to obtain residency for tax purposes. interestingly canadians spend under six months because they dont want to lose their health care benefits. i assume that many people from michigan in the naples area make the same calculations. obviously there are many other facors as well but i think it is part of the equation..
Bob LaBrant says
With less than eight years before the 2030 census these population estimates signal that Michigan’s congressional delegation will once again shrink in size from 13 to 12 in 2032.
Michigan as late as 1980 was represented in Washington with 18 members of Congress. Michigan’s population and representation size was due to the birth of the auto industry at the beginning of the 20th Century and the role Michigan played in defense armament during World War II which saw a great migration of population to
Michigan. Michigan’s auto industry flourished in post-war America unchallenged until the 1970’s. That explains above all else our representation loss over the past half century.
Walt Sorg says
Population loss isn’t a Michigan-specific phenomenon, but part of a national demographic shift. All of the Great Lakes states are seeing people relocate to the Sunbelt and mountain West. https://www.axios.com/2022/07/01/population-shift-west-sunbelt-census
I find it ironic that others see Michigan as having a high cost of living. We have the most affordable housing in the nation; our state-and-local taxes are ranked 5th LOWEST of the states according to the Tax Foundation https://taxfoundation.org/publications/state-local-tax-burden-rankings/#results.
Bob Baldori says
Michigan is the best state in the US as a place to live, provided you can escape to a warmer clime in Jan/Feb. We sit on top of the world’s biggest fresh water aquifer, and have almost none of the maladies afflicting other parts of the the country. Earthquakes, tornadoes, drought, temperature extremes, rising oceans, wildfires, etc, etc.
You get more for a dollar in Michigan than just about anywhere else in the country, and the seasons and natural environment here are spectacular. As a lifetime resident, it surprises me that more people aren’t moving into Michigan than moving out. I certainly do not expect that to continue as climate change drives people to safer places. But it is good to know us natives will have more of it to ourselves, at least in the near future.
Matt Crehan says
There are two reasons people would choose to leave; Taxes and Winter, both of which are intertwined. For those who were born here, they stayed out of family ties and convenience. This presumed, of course, that suitable employment could be maintained. Michigan’s economy took quite a blow in the early 80’s, along with the demise of heavy manufacturing.
This caused many to seek greater opportunity in Texas, as evidenced by a native Texans complaint about the invasion of the “Black Tag Folks”. At that time, Michigan license plates were black with white letters, and apparently enough were sighted as to caused consternation among the “Ten Gallon Hat Folks”.
Once the sunnier climes are discovered, the lure to the South is great. My first trip to Florida was for spring break while at MSU. Quite the treat to have 80 degree weather in February! (and fresh orange juice besides).
When someone reaches the age of maximum pension and decides to pay significant attention to their financial condition, they soon discover states that are tax friendly (i.e. lower), especially regarding the property tax. These individuals also realize that instead of one vote, they now have two. Their left vote and their right vote. So on go their running shoes and out of Michigan they go.
The additional tax on retirement benefits did not assist in keeping those with no employment ties in Michigan any longer than necessary. Once the Florida domicile is discovered, many taxes decrease, along with the estate tax. The phrase “I can’t afford to die in Michigan” comes to mind.
So what’s the solution to reversing this trend? Simple. A significant reduction in taxes, starting with the personal income tax, which should be eliminated. This would have a substantial positive impact on everyone who is employed. The next step is to eliminate all tax abatements, subsidies, set-asides, etc., that have been doled out to a chosen few. (Those who can afford lobbyists) Corporate welfare be damned.
Just taking these two steps will soon result in a truly competitive marketplace which is fair to everyone. A prosperous economy develops its own inherent strength which instills confidence for continued investment, resulting in a stable population.
So perhaps we won’t lose another congressional seat in 2030 after all. Who knows, we may even gain one. (as long as the illegal aliens aren’t counted)
Matt Crehan says
REVISED TWO PARAGRAPHS:
So what’s the solution to reversing this trend? Simple. A significant reduction in taxes, starting with the personal income tax, which should be eliminated. This would have a substantial positive impact on everyone who is employed. The next step is to eliminate all tax abatements, subsidies, set-asides, etc., that have been doled out to a chosen few. (Those who can afford lobbyists) Corporate welfare be damned. THIS WILL ALLOW THE OVERALL TAX RATE TO BE REDUCED, SO EVERYONE WILL NOW PAY THE SAME AMOUNT ACROSS THE BOARD.
Just taking these THREE steps will soon result in a truly competitive marketplace which is fair to everyone. A prosperous economy develops its own inherent strength which instills confidence for continued investment, resulting in a stable population.
David L Richards says
Weather and the ability to work from anywhere are the primary causes. While taxes may be a factor occasionally where an individual’s personal circumstances are affected by the type of tax imposed, that is not a factor in Michigan’s population loss in view of Michigan’s taxes being fifth lowest in the country, as pointed out by another commenter. In fact, Florida, a big population gainer, has far higher taxes per capita than Michigan does, and its effective tax rate is also higher. Texas, which has a slightly higher tax burden than Michigan, is a big population gainer also. Mississippi, Louisiana and North Dakota are in the top ten in population loss, and all have a less than average tax burden. An additional and important factor is that Michigan’s less than stellar public services, which taxes pay for, discourage young people from coming to or staying in Michigan.