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Population report shows warning for Michigan's future

Michigan's population has been flat for decades and is expected to begin declining by the year 2045.
Adam Miedema
WCMU File Photo
Michigan's population has been flat for decades and is expected to begin declining by the year 2045.

Michigan’s population is expected to have about another decade of slow growth before eventually declining below current numbers by 2050.

That’s according to a new report from the Michigan Center for Data and Analytics.

Demographic Analyst Alan Leach said birth rate data explains part of the story.

“The patterns of fertility boom and bust were kind of exaggerated for Michigan. In other words, per capita, our birth rates were higher than the nation throughout most of the baby boom. And then, since the 1970s, we’ve generally had lower birthrates,” Leach said.

The report shows each generation following the baby boomers has seen progressively fewer births. On top of that, the number Michigan women between the ages of 21 and 40 has also generally decreased since the 1990s.

Meanwhile, the research predicts death rates will start rising by around 35% from 2023 and 2047.

“The leading factor in the steady increase in deaths will be the large number of people over 70 as the baby boomer generation continues to age,” the report said.

The numbers predict the country as a whole to begin experiencing a natural population decrease, starting in 2038.

The overall population decline in Michigan is still expected, even if more people enter the state than leave it in the coming decades.

Aside from the rate of natural change dictated by births and deaths, net-migration also influences overall population changes.

Leach said a decade from now, it could take a net-positive of around 25,000 people moving to the state each year just to keep its current population numbers.

He said the recent record for net-migration was a little over 30,000 in the 1990s.

“So, when we start getting 25-30,000 more deaths than births, given our recent migration history, currently it just seems like it’s going to be very difficult for us to offset that with migration,” Leach said.

The report comes at a time when state officials are working to reverse Michigan’s sluggish population growth, though some proposals have been politically controversial.

In December, the governor’s Growing Michigan Together Council unveiled its final suggestions for making Michigan one of the faster growing states.

Colin Jackson is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.