Report: Michigan could lose congressional seat if population trends persist
- Despite modest population gains, Michigan could be on track to lose a congressional seat if current trends continue
- Southern states like Texas and Florida would see the biggest population gains according to projections from the Brennan Center, while California and New York would take the biggest hits
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has prioritized increasing the state’s population, but some are skeptical of her proposals and their price tag
Michigan made modest population gains last year after years of decline — but the state is still on track to lose a congressional seat if current trends persist, a new analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice shows.
The analysis was based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates that were released Tuesday that found that Michigan gained nearly 4,000 residents in 2023. The state retained its status as the nation’s 10th most populous state as the COVID-19 pandemic waned and immigration increased.
As of July 1, Michigan’s population was estimated at 10,037,261 — up 3,980 from the year before but still down 40,413 from 2020.
But the nationwide analysis of population trends by the Brennan Center, a nonprofit policy institute at New York University School of Law, predicted that booming population growth in Southern states like Texas and Florida mean the Midwest and other regions will likely remain stagnant or lose congressional representation.
States like California and New York could take an even bigger hit if migration trends continue, although much could change between now and the next congressional reapportionment following the 2030 census, Brennan Center authors Michael Li and Gina Feliz wrote. They noted that rising interest rates, housing costs, immigration trends and other factors could affect population changes.
“Barring something completely unforeseen, the 2020s are shaping up to be the South’s decade,” Li and Feliz wrote.
Michigan has lost congressional seats after every 10-year census count for decades. The state’s congressional representation peaked in the 1960s and 1970s when Michigan had 19 members in the U.S. House. Now, the state’s population is split into 13 districts, represented by seven Democrats and six Republicans.
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Losing yet another seat would further diminish Michigan’s national clout, both in the U.S. Capitol and in presidential elections, where each state is allocated one electoral vote per federal lawmaker representing the state in the U.S. House and Senate.
Michigan’s population has largely flat-lined since 1990. The state ranks 49th behind only West Virginia in growth over that time. In addition to decreased political power, ongoing population stagnation could exacerbate statewide job shortages and quality-of-life issues already at play in Michigan.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has prioritized reversing the state’s sluggish population trends. Last week, she accepted a report from her Growing Michigan Together Council that calls for education reform, better public transit and investments in cities.
Whitmer spokesperson Stacey LaRouche on Tuesday called the census estimates “a step in the right direction” for Michigan, adding that the governor will review the council report in the coming months and “work with anyone to find solutions.”
The council’s suggestions for making Michigan more attractive to prospective residents and young people didn’t come with cost estimates or proposed funding mechanisms, and many Republican legislators raised concerns that implementing the recommendations would mean higher taxes for Michigan residents.
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