Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > Here’s How Michigan Can Reverse its Population Slide

Here’s How Michigan Can Reverse its Population Slide

October 20, 2023

Crain’s Detroit
Oct. 19, 2023
By John Gallagher

Michigan has been losing population amid slowing birth rates that don’t replace deaths as people are aging. Post-pandemic, experts at the Citizens Research Council expect Michigan births to slightly outpace deaths over the next decade, but as the population ages, that gap will grow smaller and, by 2040-45, deaths are expected to routinely outnumber births.

What we can do to get there: Make Michigan more attractive

Policies and investments that improve the state in the eyes of people in the Midwest, around the country and across the world could consistently help Michigan draw more people than it’s losing.

A survey conducted earlier this year by MICHauto, an arm of the Detroit Regional Chamber working on mobility issues, showed younger workers see the auto industry as staid and old-fashioned.

“Adults had a pretty favorable perception of the industry. Youth did not,” Stevens told Crain’s. “The word ‘automotive’ is just not relevant for young people. It’s an old word for them.”

He believes better career counseling would help. Nationally the ratio of counselors to students is about 450 to 1, but it’s 650 to 1 in Michigan, Stevens said: “So is it any wonder that there’s a disconnect, a labor force participation rate problem when we have a pathways problem?”

Meanwhile, debates over tax credits to create manufacturing jobs may be the wrong discussion.

“We have to stop thinking about saving the analog jobs,” Stevens says, “and start thinking about how we’re going to create the digital future.”

And it’s more than just jobs.

survey in August commissioned by Business Leaders for Michigan and the Detroit Regional Chamber asked Michigan respondents aged 18-29 what factors would come into play when weighing whether to take a job in state against a similar one elsewhere.

They were asked to rank 12 factors on a scale of 1 to 10. The cost of housing/rent (8.6), low crime rates (8.3), and the affordability and availability of higher education or job training (7.9) were given greatest importance, while living around people their own age (6.2), the weather (6.3) and good public transportation and walkable communities (6.6) also were ranked.