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Census: Detroit's population may be stabilizing

Detroit skyline seen from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River.
flickr user Bernt Rostad
Detroit skyline seen from Windsor, Ontario, across the Detroit River.

New census figures show Wayne County lost .4% of its population between July of 2014 and July of 2015.

Kurt Metzger, founder of Data Driven Detroit, says that's an improvement, after decades of steep decline.

And it holds promise for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who says he wants to be judged on things like people moving into the city.

"I think we're getting to that point where the population of Detroit is kind of stabilized," says Metzger, "and now if we can bring in enough housing, he (Duggan) will by the end of his first term is over, see the first population growth in 50 years."

But there's a dark side to the stabilization of Detroit's population, says Metzger. That's because the majority of people living in the city cannot move away. They don't have the skills to find a good job elsewhere, nor can they afford to leave.

He says for decades, Detroiters have been let down by a terrible public school system.

"These are not people who chose to be unskilled," says Metzger. "These were not people who chose to be unemployable. I mean this is what they were stuck with. They were being graduated, and what did they have to show for it?"

The census shows Grand Rapids was the fastest growing metro area, with a nearly one percent growth in population.

Overall, Michigan's population grew by a tiny .06%.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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