Adding population until the cows come home

crowd of people

Gov. Rick Snyder urged the state to add roughly 72,000 residents by 2020 to reach the 10 million population mark.

Besides trumpeting the productivity of Michigan’s dairy cows (we’re No. 2, to Colorado), Gov. Rick Snyder used his State of the State address to make a pitch for something surprising:

More residents.

It’s surprising not because it’s a bad idea – more people can add to the state’s vitality and economic growth – but because the state’s demographic trends are not in the governor’s favor.

In the last five years, Georgia and North Carolina passed Michigan in population. Michigan now ranks 10th and is still recovering from being the only state to lose population from 2000 to 2010. Michigan was among the hardest hit before, during, and after the Great Recession by people leaving for other states.

Falling short

Gov. Rick Snyder wants the state’s population to exceed 10 million by 2020. But current low-growth rates may make that highly unlikely.

Estimated Population

2016: 9,928,300

2017: 9,936,816

2018: 9,945,338

2019: 9,953,869

2020: 9,962,406

Source: U.S. Census population estimates

Note: Bridge estimated future population based on average annual growth between 2010 and 2016.

No matter, last week Snyder urged the state to plow past the 10 million population mark by 2020 (he’ll finish as governor in January 2019).  

The state, according to U.S. Census estimates, now has 9,928,300 folks, about 72,000 short. Oh, so close, right?

Not when you consider Michigan’s anemic growth.  

From 2015 to 2016, Michigan’s population increased by 10,585 people, according to U.S. Census estimates.  In the last five years, Michigan has added, on average, about 10,400 people. At that rate, it would take the state until 2023 to reach 10 million.

To break the barrier in four years would require some combination of rising birth rates, a sudden increase in longevity (not likely, Michigan ranks 35th in life expectancy with high rates of obesity) and a huge influx of immigrants. That’s a wobbly three-legged stool.

By contrast, eight other states added more than 71,000 people from 2015 to 2016 alone. Michigan, meanwhile, ranks 49th in growth and is the 10th oldest state in the country.

Short of outlawing contraception, improving health care so dramatically that lifespans improve, or opening the door wider to tens of thousands abroad and from across the United States, Michigan may stand a better chance of passing Colorado in milk production by 2020.

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Ren Farley
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 9:40am

In a developed economy, population growth is a powerful stimulant for further economic growth. And population decline, in a developed economy, typically seriously dampens economic growth. If there is no population growth, some other stimulus is needed to promote economic growth. I am very glad to hear that the governor mentioned this importnt topic. But, as you correctly point out, it is difficult to stimulate population growth unless new employment opportunities are steadily coming on line. It is also very valuable to note that Michigan is a high mortality state. Given current death rates, a child born in Hawaii or Minnesota can expect to live three years longer than one born in the Mitten.
I hope that legislature will address the issue of population growth and the state's high death rates.

Mary Manner
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:11am

In order to attract young, skilled workers to the state, Michigan will have to do something about increasing the supply of quality, affordable childcare that meets the needs of working families. The the childcare sector loses thirty providers every month (net loss, including start-ups). In Prosperity Region 2 there are fewer than 400 licensed childcare providers for the ten counties, and the majority are home-based providers with capacity for 6 or 12 children at a time.

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:23am

As I remember Governor Snyder said he didn't care about retirees leaving the state back when the Republicans were transferring the small business tax to retirees and families . I suppose his idea of increasing the states population really means increasing the number of people coming her to start a business.

Gene Markel
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 11:32am

Nothing is liner and everything cycles. Michigan is nearing the end of a population decline and most probably will never reach the density of the 1950s again. Automation technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Vision (MV), Computer Numeric Control (CNC) and Robotics will have replace 3 out of 5 Manufacturing and Assembly jobs through the U.S. by 2020. These jobs are not coming back. It is unknown what human enterprise or technology will create to replace the lost jobs.

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 6:01pm

I'd like to have seen this article include what the Gov is doing to attract others to come live here. I'd like to see Bridge toss in some ideas. Without some creativity delivered the info supplied his Snyder's wish list. Ho hum. Comments above are potentially more productive than the article as is sits right now. Maybe Bridge might ask readers for such ideas? No question we need additional residents to keep the state viable and moving forward.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 01/26/2017 - 9:21pm

So a governor who likes to have Michigan Taxpayers pay for own his little pet projects (i.e. pension tax hike, Michigan Income Tax Hike, Proposal 1 redux, etc.) cannot figure out why people don't want to move into Michigan?

Someone who like to flush their hard earned money down the toilet (Detroit bailout & Snydercaid just to name a few) without a care in the world.

Perhaps our learned governor (and the republicans in the Michigan Legislature) might want to take a page out of the playbooks of Wyoming or Nevada on how to run a state government.

suzanne strohmeyer
Fri, 01/27/2017 - 5:22am

Wish I could say something helpful but...I have lived in Michigan all of my life--62 years. Snyder is concerned about numbers but not about people. He is not concerned with Flint and doing the right thing, he is not concerned with Detroit and their schools or with our roads and infrastructure. If I didn't already live in Michigan there is not much here to draw me in.

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 8:25pm

We all have to take care of ourselves. For me, the property tax is a killer. Extra assessment to pay for unfunded government pension benefits in Wayne County in 2015, raising the RESA tax by 2 mills in 2016, another attempt to raise the transportation tax in 2018, all tied to property values means I will take my residence to Florida. I have already switched my plates to Florida where there is cheaper insurance and no catastrophic claims assessment, plus no state income tax. Michigan, it was nice knowing you, but not when your hand goes deeper into my pocket.

Fred Swartz
Sun, 01/29/2017 - 12:24am

US and world population are already too high. I prefer to think of Michigan as a leader in a more sustainable world.

F. C. Dobbs
Sun, 01/29/2017 - 1:27pm

I've only been around 60+ years, but just in my lifetime the worlds population has ballooned from 2.5 to 7+ Billion.
If this continues, we're doomed.
Growth isn't what's needed. It brings its own demands on resources and infrastructure.
More jobs. That's the only rallying cry of our "leaders"?
More jobs so you can buy more stuff you don't need so you can build more dumps for it when it dies an early death.
What a vision.
Governments' first job is to provide services for those who pay the taxes. That means first security, and then something to help the general welfare, like education and health care.
I want a leader whose dream is more leisure time, not more hours on the job.
Productivity is way up. It's been growing for decades.
Cut the work week to 20 hours and you'll employ twice as many people.
And maybe encourage people to live within their means. And the best way to do that is through example, and hopefully Mr. Snyder will think about that.
More population and more growth is a Ponzi scheme, not leadership.

Laurence Rosen
Mon, 01/30/2017 - 2:04pm

Three factors mitigate against achieving Governor Snyder's demographic goal. First, Michigan continues to be an out-migration state; that is, more residents leave Michigan each year and are not replaced by new residents from elsewhere. Large scale migration away from Michigan was a crisis in the early 1980s when hundreds of thousands of people fled the state looking for work. Michiganders have continued to leave through periods of both recovery and recession since then either to find work or to retire. Second, those who do move to Michigan these days are mainly from other nations. From 2010 to 2015, 218,000 Michiganders left the state. During the same period 128,000 people moved to Michigan from another country. The result was a net loss of 87,000 residents as many Michiganders continue to choose to live somewhere else. Without foreign immigration to Michigan, even recent modest gains in Michigan's population would disappear. Since Michigan is an important destination for migrants from the Middle East, newly implemented immigration policies are likely to cut off one of Michigan's few sources of population growth. The third factor is that our state's business-friendly policies have apparently failed to generate enough economic growth since the Great Recession to attract large numbers of new residents from other states. Even with the revival of the auto industry, automation has eliminated hundreds of thousands of auto jobs, and no other industries have replaced these jobs or generated large-scale new employment that would normally attract Americans looking for work to move to Michigan or even entice former residents to return home. As a result, Michigan will continue to be eclipsed by other states' growth, diminishing our importance on the national stage and, most importantly, reduce our representation in Congress after the 2020 Census.

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 12:12am

There is a labor shortage in Grand Rapids, so jobs aren't necessarily the problem. The Pension Tax and loss of film credits in 2011 hurt us a lot, and poor education, mass transit, and roads harm us on a daily basis as current residents get fed up with conditions. Google wanted to open a much larger office in MI, but couldn't because they couldn't attract talent to a metro area with no functional mass transit system. Best thing we could do to bring in residents? Massive investments in Detroit, Flint, and other school districts, better roads, and functional mass transit in SE Michigan.