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Michigan population forecasted to grow, but many rural areas will lose people

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Economists forecast that Michigan's population will increase by about a half-million people over the next three decades. That growth will likely be concentrated in certain areas.

Growth is expected the suburban Detroit area and spreading west.

“A band of counties kind of going across from suburban Detroit over to Lake Michigan, through Grand Rapids and the Lansing area,” explained Gabriel Ehrlich, Director of the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics at the University of Michigan.

Ehrlich says the northwest corner of the lower peninsula –around the Traverse City region up to Petoskey- will also see population growth.

“But then along the shores of Lake Huron and in most of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we actually expect the population to decline. And in fact, we actually forecast more counties in Michigan to lose population over the next three decades than to gain population,” Ehrlich said.

Generally speaking, rural counties will continue to lose population while more suburban and urban areas are expected to grow. A notable exception is Wayne County/Detroit which is expected to see its population decline slightly.

The 2020 census reported Michigan's population as 10,077,331, an increase from 2010 of nearly 200,000 people. However, since then, updated numbers show a slight decrease.

The economists expect Michigan’s population to peak at about 10.5 million in the mid 2040s and then stall or decline.