Death trend stalks Northern Michigan

Nearly half of Michigan’s counties reported more deaths than births in the most recent state statistics – a grim trend that has its epicenter in Northern Michigan.

In 2011, 35 of our 83 counties experienced natural decrease, as deaths outnumbered births. (See map at bottom of post.) This was a large increase from the 14 who fell on the negative side of natural population growth in 2000. The vast majority of birth-dearth counties were in the Upper Peninsula (12 negative, with the exceptions of Chippewa, Menominee and Houghton) and Northern Lower Peninsula (21 negative, with the exceptions of Emmet, Grand Traverse, Missaukee, Osceola, Otsego and Wexford). The future of these counties, without significant in-migration, is an aging and decreasing population.

Only two other counties in the entire state – Bay and Huron – came out on the negative side.(Sanilac County, in the Thumb, recorded the same number of births and deaths in 2011.)

The figures come from the Michigan Department of Community Health, which has released provisional death data for 2011. This release allows us to add another year to the analysis of Michigan’s population change due to natural increase – the difference between births and deaths.  Table 1 shows statewide birth and deaths by year between 2000 and 2011.  The blue line represents the natural increase value.

While the number of Michigan deaths was slightly lower in 2011 than 2010 (down 133), the larger drop in births (down 558) resulted in another year of decline in natural increase for the state. From 2000 to 2011,, births have decreased by 16.1 percent while deaths have increased 1.1 percent. This has resulted in a 46.5 percent decline in natural increase!

In other words, while Michigan was adding 49,041 residents through natural increase in 2000, it could only garner 26,234 additional residents by 2011.  Such a drop in natural growth puts more pressure on the state to increase both international (immigration) and domestic migration to maintain growth. While immigration has stayed relatively constant over the decade, domestic migration (always negative) has varied with the economy. The trend in the last two years has been one of decreasing domestic loss, resulting in the 2012 population gain.

About The Author

Kurt Metzger

Kurt Metzger is director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit, a nonprofit in Detroit established by foundations to build greater capacity for people to work together, and improve lives and communities affiliated with the Michigan Nonprofit Association. In 2013, he was elected mayor of Pleasant Ridge.

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Wed, 06/12/2013 - 11:56am
In many parts of northern Michigan there is nothing much going on economically to keep their young people after they finish high school, many of those who go to college never return to live there again. This of course leads to fewer children being born and a remaining population that keeps getting older. The economic ramifications are not good, I have relatives that live near Rogers City and they tell me it is a serious concern.
Bob Boardman
Wed, 06/12/2013 - 12:10pm
....Such a drop in natural growth puts more pressure on the state to increase both international (immigration) and domestic migration to maintain growth...... The problem is that the children of folks living in Northern Michigan cannot find decent jobs and have to move out. The Pure Michigan campaign has done nothing to help this situation as the data shows. All Pure Michigan does is create low-paying jobs for Jamaicans. BRIDGE might want to do some real reporting on this and stop pimping the Pure Michigan socialism for the well-off campaign. Or else, as this article suggests, BRIDGE can start pimping a program to develop more immigration for the low-paying jobs Pure Michigan creates.
Wed, 06/12/2013 - 2:57pm
Somehow I don't think this will make the housing any cheaper in Leelanau County when I retire.
Gregory Taylor
Wed, 06/12/2013 - 7:31pm
So, why is this bad?