Michigan population inches up as deaths fall and immigration climbs

  • Michigan’s population rose by 3,980 in 2023 and the state remains the 10th most populous
  • It’s the first increase since 2018 and was driven by an increase in immigration and drop in deaths
  • Michigan is one of 11 states where population rebounded after a year declining

After losing population five straight years, Michigan gained nearly 4,000 residents in 2023 as the COVID-19 pandemic waned and immigration increased, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday. 

Michigan’s population as of July 1, 2023, is estimated at 10,037,261, up 3,980 from the year before but still down 40,413 from 2020. 

Michigan remains the nation’s 10th most populous state, one spot behind North Carolina (10.6 million) and one ahead of New Jersey (9.2 million.)

Michigan is one of 11 states that lost population in 2022 but gained residents this year as immigration reached pre-pandemic levels and deaths fell 9 percent nationwide.

The nation, like Michigan, recorded its largest population gain since 2018, with its population increasing 0.5 percent to 334.9 million people.

The rebound comes as the pandemic loses its potency: In Michigan, COVID deaths dropped to about 4,700 from June 30, 2022, to July 1, 2023, down from nearly 14,400 the year before.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has made increasing population a priority. Last week, she accepted a report from her Growing Michigan Together Council that calls for education reform, better public transit and investments in cities.

Michigan’s population has flat-lined since 1990, as the state ranks 49th behind only West Virginia in growth over that time.

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“Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction for Michigan,” Whitmer spokesperson Stacey LaRouche said in a Tuesday statement, referring to the census estimates.

“Michigan’s future is bright, and in the months ahead, Gov. Whitmer will review the council’s report in detail and work with anyone to find solutions and help anyone make it in Michigan.”

Despite the good news, Michigan experienced a net loss of 15,000 people to other states, nearly double the previous year’s net loss of 8,600 people. 

Since 2020, the state has had a net loss of over 53,000 to other states as retirees seek the Sun Belt and younger people look for careers in Washington, North Carolina and Colorado.

Those losses were offset this year by a spike in immigration, as 22,817 people moved to Michigan, the most since 2018.

“We cannot address our population issues without immigration,” said Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit, a nonprofit that advocates for immigration as an economic growth strategy.

He said almost all of Michigan’s population growth in the past quarter of a century has come from immigration.

Surveys have shown that half of immigrant adults have a four-year college degree — far more than the 30 percent of current Michigan adults, Tobocman said. 

The Trump administration’s policies cut immigration numbers down by half — with international migration to Michigan falling to 9,200 in 2019 from over 28,000 in 2016.

The pandemic further restricted immigration.



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