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New census data shows Michigan's population declining

The Detroit skyline as seen from across the Detroit River.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

New census data shows that Michigan lost population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state lost more than 26,000 people between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. It's less than 1% of the state's population, but experts said it's significant, affecting businesses, schools, and housing prices in the state.

Reynolds Farley is a professor at the University of Michigan’s Population Studies Center.

"The businesses in the state are going to have a smaller and smaller market for their services and their goods, which is not good for more businesses. They need to eventually lay off people," he said.

The census data also showed that Michigan’s residents are getting older, and the state still has a much whiter population than the country's average.

Farley said Michigan typically does not attract a lot of immigrant communities — but it will need to find ways to grow its population or face big social changes.

"If the population is going down, it’s quite likely your sales are going down, and your school districts are going to have to adjust to smaller numbers of students and so forth. So there’s a benefit to population growth typically," he said.

Experts said more job offerings and affordable housing opportunities could entice more people to move to Michigan.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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