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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.

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