LANSING – Michigan’s population grew slightly from 2014 to 2015, helped by births and immigration, but the rate of growth is slow enough that the state could lose another congressional seat, figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau showed.
In fact, Kurt Metzger, founder of Data Driven Detroit and mayor of Pleasant Ridge, said it is clear that Michigan will lose another U.S. House member following the 2020 census and there is nothing the state can do to stop it.
Metzger said there is also some troubling data in the latest report, as it shows the number of people leaving the state has grown even though the state’s economy has improved.
In fact, the number of people that left Michigan from July 2014 to July 2015 was the largest since 2011, when Governor Rick Snyder first took office and the state began to see improvements in its unemployment rate.
The figures show that Michigan is the nation’s 10th most populous state with an estimated 9.922 million. The state grew by just 6,270 people during the past year.
It was surpassed by North Carolina, now the 9th-largest state with more than 10 million people.
Michigan is still more than 1 million people larger than New Jersey, the 11th-largest state in the nation.
The state has seen its population grow by some 45,000 people since it stood at 9.877 million people in 2010 (when it was the only state to lose population from 2000 to 2010).
A total of states, even in sunshine areas, lost population during the year: Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, Mississippi, Vermont, Maine and New Mexico. North Dakota was in terms of percentage the largest growing state, with growth of 2.3 percent. The state was helped by the energy industry, but still it had a total population of 756,927, the 47th largest state.
Metzger said because states like North Carolina (which grew by more than 100,000 people in the last year), Texas, Florida and others continue to outpace every other state in growth there is virtually nothing the Midwest can do to counter that kind of growth.
“We might as well prepare ourselves” for losing at least one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following the 2020 census, Metzger said. Losing one seat would mean Michigan would have 13 members of the House, the lowest number in more than a century. It would also mark fifth consecutive census that resulted in the state losing at least once congressional member.
From the 1960s to the 1980 census, the state had 19 members of the U.S. House.
The state saw some 24,000 immigrants come into the state and its highest total of births this decade, more than 114,000, which was 24,000 more than the number of deaths.
But the state saw outmigration to other states of more than 38,000 which put the state second behind Illinois in terms of the largest outmigration.
Metzger said it was unclear what was the cause of that outflow, and officials would have to watch to see if the trend repeats in another year.
While some of it may be due to retirees leaving the state for milder weather, Mr. Metzger said it could also be that younger people are searching out what they see as better job opportunities.
Michigan has seen job growth over the last five years, but much of it may be in lower paying jobs such as retail trade, Metzger said. There are indications that graduates of the state’s best known universities, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, are still more likely to go to other states than graduates of the other schools.
Metzger said the state has a significant split on the age ranges of its residents. While the Detroit metro area is the third most concentrated in the nation in terms of Baby Boomers, he said, it is 49th in terms of Millennials.
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