Upper Peninsula population plummets. One family’s struggle shows why.

froheip picnic

Dave and Sherri Frohriep think it’s time to leave their Luce County home in the Upper Peninsula, where good jobs and opportunities for their growing children are scarce. (Photo by Al Lilly)

Where are all the Yoopers going?

Since 2010, 14 of the 15 counties in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have lost population. One of every eight people who lived in Ontonagon County in 2010 are now gone. Check out how your county’s population trend compares.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

LUCE COUNTY – The calls from his sister are the hardest.

“She lives in Mobile, Alabama,” said Dave Frohriep. “She’s putting pictures on Facebook all the time of them out playing in the sand, and out fishing, and their house is beautiful and they’re always going out to dinner, going out to movies.

“They have the life we used to have.”

Dave, 40 and his wife Sherri Frohriep, 46, live in rural Luce County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They’ve been unemployed for more than a year. Their electricity was turned off for a few weeks this summer.

“We used to be able to say, let’s go to a movie, and not worry about whether we had the money for it,” Dave Frohriep said. “Now we’re the lowest we’ve ever been, it just feels like it’s going to get worse.”

With no jobs for them and few opportunities for their teen-aged children, the Frohrieps are thinking of leaving Michigan.

“Michigan has definitely been left behind,” Dave Frohriep said. “I think we can make a better life somewhere else.”

RELATED: Poverty in paradise.

The Upper Peninsula is losing population at a startling rate. Since 2010, 14 of the U.P.’s 15 counties suffered population declines. Ontonagon County near the Wisconsin border lost one in eight residents since 2010, and one in every four residents since 2000.

The U.P. has always been sparsely populated, but the number of permanent residents remained fairly steady from 1930 to 2010. The 2016 total population estimate of 302,981 is the lowest since the beginning of the 20th century.

The population decline is a result of an aging population and a struggle to maintain and attract good jobs to the beautiful but isolated region, said Caralee Swanberg of the Lake Superior Community Partnership, the economic development agency for Marquette, Dickinson and Baraga Counties.

“The economy here has always been a sticks and stones economy – timber and mining,” Swanberg said. When those industries are in a downturn (such as with the recent closing of the Empire Mine, in Marquette County), the U.P. economy suffers.

The region, which has one third of the state’s land but only 3 percent of its population, has trouble keeping its young adults. Many leave for college, and even if they want to make a life in the U.P., there are few jobs for those with degrees. “We have trouble retaining the 25-40 (year-olds),” Swanberg said.

The UP’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in July, compared to 3.7 percent for the state of Michigan as a whole. State officials acknowledge that those numbers are suppressed by a large number of residents who have simply given up on finding jobs.

RELATED: Michigan’s incredible shrinking workforce.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation offers economic incentives for companies based in the Upper Peninsula to expand. “It’s easier to retain a company than attract a company,” Swanberg said.

Luce County, where the Frohrieps live, lost 4 percent of its population since 2010.

The Frohrieps are participating in a year-long project following families with different political views from different parts of the state, to try to better understand the bubbles in which many of us live.

You can read more about “Michigan Divided” here, and about the Frohrieps here.

RELATED: Michigan Divided: Searching for common ground in uncommon times

Those in comfortable jobs in the Lower Peninsula who visit the U.P. for vacations “don’t have a clue” about how tough life can be for year-round residents, said Sherri Frohriep.

“We used to have a fair that came to Newberry every spring, now it’s gone,” Sherri Frohriep said. “The bowling alley closed. The movie theatre is hanging on by a thread. You have to drive 60 miles to buy anything.”

“The tourists are taken care of a hell of a lot better than the residents,” Dave Frohriep said. “Things are dying here.”

RELATED: Down and out in purest Michigan.

So, the family is looking at its options. Sherri has family in Kentucky who can give them a place to stay until they get settled. They can do the same in Alabama with Dave’s sister, the life Dave described as a “fantasy world” compared to the U.P.

“I don’t ask for much. I could be in the middle of the woods, in a little shack, as long as I had a job and could make my rent, I’d be happy,” Dave Frohriep said. “But you’ve got to have something.

“We’re probably going to go,” he said. “There’s nothing here for us.”

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Thu, 08/31/2017 - 9:02am

This is a very shallow piece. While the UP as a whole is losing people from all the normal reasons (lack of jobs, aging population, etc) there are areas thriving such as the cities of Marquette and Houghton for example. The real story is why these and a few others are doing so well and how can that success be cloned elsewhere.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 10:30am

Marquette and Houghton have state universities and regional medical centers that bring hundreds of millions of dollars into those communities. That's not something you can clone.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:11pm

That is in part my point....communities with education based industries (medical/university/etc.) will find ways to succeed....those that don't will die. But you can examine why and how communities succeed....and it isn't just because there is a papermill or iron mine....and that is the type of journalism I expect from Bridge...

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 11:43am

Last article I read about Marquette wasn't very positive. Since the closing of the air base, crime and drugs have seen a huge increase.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 1:49pm

The KI Sawyer Air Force Base closed in 1995. There was definitely a slump after it's closure, but rampant crime and drugs 25 years later because of a base closure, I don't think so.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 12:47am

Then why the rampant drugs?

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:05pm

Marquette was just named one of the top 20 college towns for safety....( I think US Today)...

David Waymire
Thu, 08/31/2017 - 5:34pm

Karl, get in your car and take a little trip to Marquette. You will find it a very enjoyable community, with vibrant downtown, nice restaurants and coffee shops, new construction going up around (I believe) a new hospital building, banking and insurance jobs. I have been there twice in the last year, and look forward to another visit.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 6:34pm

Marquette is truly lovely.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 12:50am

I expect that Karl is referring to outlying areas in the County that are experiencing high rates of Meth, other drugs and crime.

Sat, 02/08/2020 - 12:41pm

Houghton is solely propped up by Michigan Tech University and the surrounding property value is held up solely by the University and its students. The same is true for Marquette, but by Northern Michigan University. Almost all students going to these schools leave after they graduate.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 9:23am

While tax cuts certainly are not to blame for the U.P.'s economic downturn, the safety nets that they funded are no longer available. Business tax cuts were promised to spur economic growth. A "right to work" law was supposed to spur economic growth and more jobs. All of those promises by Mr. Snyder about getting Michigan back on the right jobs path are now a distant memory. Lansing is now a lot farther away from the Upper Peninsula than it once was.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:26am

Take your blinders off lefty.
Prior to Synder Michigan was a one state recession.
Not a fan of everything Synder does, and nobody with critical thinking skills should be lockstep with any politician, but he has made the economy of Michigan far stronger than when he entered office

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 6:08pm

Actually, our recovery has been less successful than similar surrounding states despite having the benefit of the recovery of the national economy and the recovery of the auto industry, the foundation of the Michigan economy for 100 years. Neither was the result of policies of the current administration. The Michigan economy is stronger than when Snyder took office, but I don't see how he is responsible for it.

Andy Po
Sat, 09/02/2017 - 10:27pm

Do you give Obama any credit for saving the auto industry and all it's related jobs?
Or did you prefer Romney's idea of letting it go belly up?

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 3:06am

@Andy Poo, Obama did let the auto industry go belly up, it was basically a prepackaged bankruptcy where the shareholders where wiped out along with most of the bondholders. I guess bankruptcy does save things if the alternative is a complete shutdown. The problem was noth8ng was done to improve the operations and costs so we still have ugly overpriced cars. Oh, and the taxpayers gave the auto companies billions to bail them out. Obama took the lazy way out. Dont be surprised if they go bankrupt again. Try to understand the issues, Mr Poo and not just fake news talk8ng points. Thanks

Sat, 03/28/2020 - 4:56pm

Obama destroyed this Countries Economy, We moved to Marquette, MI Jan. 2015 Horrible place to live. Will be moving as soon as we can sell this house. All you Arrogant UPPER'S are why business's leave constantly trying to cheat anyone you think has some extra funds pathetic

Le Roy G. Barnett
Thu, 08/31/2017 - 9:58am

Much of American history is the movement of people from areas of little promise or diminished resources to places of greater hope. This practice is simply continuing today in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a trend that is unlikely to abate or stabilize anytime soon as the region comes into equilibrium with its human carrying capacity.

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 10:42am

Yes, but the critical part to remember is that the little promise vs. greater hope of any State is never written in stone, but rather depends on the the people of any given State: their drive, inventiveness, entrepreneurial spirit/willingness to invest & take risk, and perseverance at all of this.

While places like Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and the new core of Detroit all have this increasingly going for them, most of the rest of the State doesn't, nor does it realize life doesn't sit still or stay the same. You must constantly adapt or fail. Many other areas of this nation never had anything so easy as the auto industry, so they already know from hard knocks what the sleepy conservative areas of Michigan have long-since forgotten.

Steve Thorpe
Thu, 08/31/2017 - 10:40am

I spend a lot of time in the UP and occasionally find myself thinking back to when the interstate system was created and the decision was made not to have an east/west interstate in the UP. Part of me -- the backpacking, kayaking, hunting, fishing part -- is grateful for that decision. But the trade off was economic. I know there was a chicken or egg argument to a certain extent at the time. Not enough population to justify it. But I do think that decision has echoed down through the decades and hurt business prospects.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:24pm

US 2 is now 65 mph from the bridge to Gladstone. M-28 is also 65 mph through the Seney stretch and beyond, and speed limits are being increased on several other UP highways. Even before this change, one could still drive 60+ throughout most of the UP without worrying about getting a ticket. The biggest worry is hitting a deer, and an interstate highway isn't going to fix that. We don't have enough traffic to justify an interstate, nor do most of us want one. A few more passing lanes in strategic locations would help, but otherwise we are in pretty good shape.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 6:31pm

US2 is only 65mph from Rapid river to Eskie lol
Get your facts straight.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 10:32am

That's wrong because I live there and drive threw it, 55mph, daily ;)

Mom'n Pop
Fri, 09/01/2017 - 10:36am

They aren't posted yet for 2 or 28 if this is the case in the future, maybe. But I live there and drive those roads both very frequently, and they both are posted 55mph, other than the stretch from Rapid arapids to Escanaba as Yooper stated above.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 9:36am

Okay, so are they shifting back and forth or what? Because I live in the U.P. and the whole stretch definitely was 65 at least from Gould City (that's about where I started on the west) to St. Ignace when I drove downstate in mid-July.

Post-Truth Era indeed...

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 2:48pm

I drove highway 2 from st ignats to rapid river last week and its posted 65. Yooper needs to get out in the big world more often.

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 10:35pm

Yes, I drove to the Escanaba fair and it was 65 all the way from Engadine to Gladstone for sure.

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 1:32pm

Yes it's recently switched to 65 down the whole stretch.... Look it up. It was on the news too!

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 10:58am

They could consider moving to West Michigan, where the economy is much better and they could still enjoy the Great Lakes. I know several people who have moved here from the U.P.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:31am

There are good jobs for those willing to work.
Sadly willing to work isn't a strong suite of the American youth anymore.
I am in sales and cover the state. Most of my contractors do not have enough man power and cannot find willing workers.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 6:02pm


Tue, 09/05/2017 - 6:30pm

No, it is harder than ever to find people to kill themselves for slave wages.

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 12:10pm

I retired from the US Air Force in 1992 and moved from San Antonio to Marquette. I liked the City's size and it's potential. We have a university, a regional hospital, a beautiful shoreline, a downtown that looks like a downtown, and a whole lot of folks that volunteer their time to make things better. This year our university's freshmen enrollment is up, a new hospital is under construction, and a gas fired power plant is being built. We're looking forward, not backward.

Jay Rowe
Thu, 08/31/2017 - 2:59pm

Love Marquette, love Hancock where we live. QUit a job as chief engineer at Scott Paper of Marinette Wisconsin. To move home to Copper Country 45 years ago. CHanged careers, but soon realized that if you can't get a job in the governments, universities, K-12, you end up " sucking saltwater ". FOrtunate I was a person who could stand on my own, I made a great living in paradise raising 3 sons. Needed to have wife work. Tell my grandchildren to head South as not much future here. Sad.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 9:40am

Don't forget hospital jobs, the largest employers in many U.P. counties (for now, at least!).

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 2:39pm

It is unfortunate that these folks are having such a hard time but it isn't anyone's fault that there are no jobs in a remote area. Coal miners in W. Virginia are in the same situation. Should tourists who are well taken care of there not come and spend their money?

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:13pm

We're transplants to the U.P. We've found there's plenty of work if you're willing to work. But don't expect to make high wages. Many employers can't find good help.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:33am

Willing to work is the key.
Hard working, consciousness people are a rare commodity these days

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 6:04pm

True. It is Called ......*WORK Ethic* which unfortunately many are lacking here.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 9:44am

Funny, because in discussions of the U.P.'s strengths (SWOT analyses) I have been involved with, work ethic usually ends up on the list. Not sure whether I agree.

Ability of potential hires to pass drug tests is a major problem in many industries.

Texas Yooper
Tue, 09/05/2017 - 7:32pm

The work ethics of the 20-30 year olds nationwide is nothing like it was 50 years ago...this generation wants top pay for a starting position...they want a paycheck with no Blood Sweat and Tears...that's most of the problem with this Entitlement Generation...they want everything for free...there are plenty of steady jobs out there...they might not pay what you want...but they're out there... If you want more...then you may have to move south...jmho

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 3:19pm

I've lived in the UP for over 30 years. It's a tough deal finding work and being able to afford driving 20-45 minutes to get there. I'm from a small town and I don't know 1/2 of the people now. There's definitely a huge number of "transplants" who have flocked to the southern UP because of cheap housing. This has also brought crime such as drug trafficing, drug abuse and property damage. The opposition to mining has also hurt potential job growth. I make a good living but if I were to lose my current job I would most certainly have to move out of the area due to a major lack of options. I love the UP but it is changing rapidly.

Ken colmer
Thu, 08/31/2017 - 5:01pm

Dave and sherri. I lived in new berry and Gilbert for number of years I now live in hazard Kentucky and am doing well. I love the u.p I love Michigan . My kids still all live there. I do not miss the winters that's for sure I do not miss the mosquitoes hardly any here. I do not regret leaving there. I miss my kids. My dad is in the process of selling his 2 properties up there as well and moving here in Kentucky after he visited. The cost of living is so much less and the taxes are not even comparable this is a great state but so is bama. Wish u both the best but once u leave u will not regret it. U will miss it but u won't regret it especially for your children.

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 1:35pm

I absolutely agree!! I absolutely love Michigan and its beauty...I can't wait to visit, but I'm so happy that I moved from there!!!

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 7:19pm

The taxes here are 2.5 times higher than the taxes of other states I've lived in. The electricity is 2 X the price of everywhere else. The water is 4 times more expensive. The tabs on the cars are 2 X higher. And they wonder why people are having troubles.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:35am

Why is water so much more?!
I have a well and specifically bought my place becuase of it.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 9:48am

Water fees widely vary from one community to the next based on age and condition of the system, user base, financing that has been obtained from other sources to construct/maintain it, historical practices of managing it, etc.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 12:40am

We are leaving Michigan, where we have both lived all our lives, because our tax dollars are not used to improve infrastructure, our voices are not heard, and business interests are king. Our gerrymandered legislature serves their buyers and the citizens and workers have no voice.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 7:37am

Don't worry Connie your vote will still get cast for your democrat candidate when your gone......LOL

Mary Thibodeau
Fri, 09/01/2017 - 8:29am

I am a Yooper by birth and LOVE everything about the Upper Peninsula, but the reality is that you MUST go where the jobs are, period!

Wed, 12/26/2018 - 2:55am

I'm also a Yooper by Birth... Moved To lower Michigan back in 1993 and found a great paying job. Had no choice I'm afraid. People do have to adapt. I miss the U.P. Would love to move back some day when I retire.

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 9:23am

I agree that the Upper Peninsula has been experiencing population declines, and adding to that is a change in demographics of those that have remained and those that are relocating here. We are seeing an older population concentration and fewer in the workforce demographic. However, that does not directly correlate to the availability of jobs. If you look at Pure Michigan Talent Connect website and the job openings posted for Newberry specifically, you will see quite a number of jobs available and a wide range of occupations. This is the case for most of the Upper Peninsula. If you talk to businesses, you will hear quite a different perspective than that represented in this article. We also have growth potential that is on the cusp of creating more traditional UP jobs in mining and manufacturing. The Upper Peninsula has a new initiative in InvestUP, which is focused on attracting business and talent to the U.P. There is much more optimism that lives here than the doom and gloom this article is portraying.

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 10:10am

As I just commented on the main article for the population change map:

The statistical methods here are flawed - this is comparing 2010 Decennial Census data to 2016 American Community Survey. They are completely different data sources that are calculated much differently (actual count vs. sampling, respectively).

Not that it changes the overall trend much: The U.P. picks up one more county gaining population (Houghton), but minimally so.

Andy Po
Sat, 09/02/2017 - 10:32pm

A new Meijer's just openned in Escanaba. They had trouble filling jobs because so many people couldn't pass the drug test.

Alan Barr
Sun, 09/03/2017 - 10:35am

This article, while accurate in SOME respects, is VERY incomplete. As an economic development professional (CEO & Executive Director of Schoolcraft Tourism & Commerce), I can tell you with certainty the research done for this article is lacking in depth, accuracy, and fairness.

In EVERY county in the Upper Peninsula we have jobs that have been open for months (or longer). These jobs, some of them VERY well-paying, are open because we cannot find workers who: 1) have the skill sets to do the job; 2) can pass a drug screen; 3) want to work.

These three problems are not happening just in the Upper Peninsula, but across the entire State of Michigan. Locally (and across the UP) we are working on launching new CTE programs that will help skill workers for good jobs without their having to get a 4-year degree and spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on their degree. It is possible to make a VERY good living in the UP with a certificate from a CTE (continuing technical education) program, or a 2-year degree from a community college.

Our institutions - local school systems, intermediate school systems, community colleges, universities, economic development organizations - are collaborating to address these issues, and are having success in doing so.

It would be helpful, and appreciated, if in the the future, your writers would dig a little deeper and come up with a complete story...one that tells the whole picture of an issue/area, rather than simply sharing the first (and worst) portion.

If you would like additional information, or to discuss my comments in more depth, please feel free to contact me. alanb@creativechange.org

Robyn Tonkin
Sun, 09/03/2017 - 12:15pm

I thought for awhile before I waded in on posting a comment to this article. I liked the profile of the couple in the article, so I decided to comment. My husband is a retired US Forest Service forester and a retired Army Reserve officer. As a forester, my husband's employment represents an employment type that was always present in the UP from earliest incursions--the professional employed by the government, by a railroad, or by an extractive resource company. My great uncle was station master for the railroad in Watersmeet in 1912. As time went on, other stable employment was added, such as medical personnel and educators. Other types of employment such as being in the labor gang, or being employed in an extractive resource dependent shop or factory waxed, then waned. One hundred years ago, the Keewenaw had 100,000 inhabitants--it is a tiny fraction of that today. A book was recently published detailing the settlements along the Choate railroad in the Watersmeet area. It is astonishing the short amount of time some of these settlements lasted-- frequently 10 years or so from inception to abandonment. Yet in that brief span of time, perhaps a dance hall or several houses would be erected in the ephemeral mill or siding town. What remains today are a few graves, often of children.
So, it would seem that employment security was always a scarce or fleeting commodity in the UP for a lot of people.

So, what to do? Move away to the sunbelt? After my husband's early retirement from the Forest Service, and after 911, we took active duty tours with the Army in places like urban Maryland and the Gulf Coast of Florida, so I know these places well. I also know areas of Kentucky and the Carolinas quite well, as well as southern California, where our daughter is stationed while in the Navy. What I have found about urban dwellers in these areas is that they quite often completely ignore negative aspects of the particular urban area where they live--they prefer to not notice them if possible, and talk about them as little as possible. They ignore rampant drug cultures, gang violence, crime such as home invasion and armed robbery, polluted water, insufferable levels of crowding (especially in SoCal), long commutes, weather problems and dirty air. They focus on the positives, which tend to be eating venues such as club districts and food fairs, entertainment venues and shopping. If it takes two hours of stop and go traffic to get to the county fair, and then an hour standing in a long line to get in the gate, they don't mention that part.
In Gulf Coast areas, from the west coast of Florida and completely along the coast of Texas, the people now live under permanent threat of horrific weather events--think Katrina, Ivan and Harvey. I was in Tampa, Florida for the 2004 hurricane season--four hurricanes and 2 tropical storms crisscrossed the peninsula. Tampa dodged the bullet, that time, but it was still awful. When the clouds start ominously lining up, and the blow is coming, when you're smack in the middle of millions of people, there's nowhere to run to. All the roads are clogged. All you can do is find some higher ground. They actually will tell you in Tampa that 3 feet higher makes a difference. C'mon now.

Another commenter mentioned the employment opportunities in lower Michigan, and the Bridge reporters write about downstate employment often. Seeking employment closer to home is a thought. Our daughter left to get educated and set in life, but she will be back with her family soon, to be employed in government, a health field or education. This is the last best place on earth. We have been all over, including out of the country, and we believe there's no place like home, the western UP.

Happy in Colorado
Thu, 10/05/2017 - 9:02am

I'm glad the Western UP is where you're most satisfied, but the reality of life for many is the quality of life as a whole is much better elsewhere. When speaking of larger areas, you failed to mention access to world-class health-care, educational opportunities to foster our children, career-growth opportunities that gives many the ability to make great wages and see the things they want to in life, see people of different cultures. Would I ever live in the places you mentioned, no. However, there is a lot more to urban dwelling than you truly seem to understand. Additionally, I read the newspaper and the central and western UP drug problem crime, and unemployment is far worse per capita than anything in my area. It's saddening as the UP will always be home. I recommend any young individual to go see the world elsewhere, because just as you did, they can always return. Hopefully they see that experience for much more than you did as well.

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 10:11am

My family left the UP in April. It's one of the best decisions we've ever made. My kids have better opportunities in school and for their future. My husband is working full time plus getting 25-30 hours overtime per week plus bonuses. Life is good!!!

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 3:36pm

As someone who has lived here over half of my life I think I have a bit of imput I not only live here but I also know the family and many more of the poor families here and why is that? That is because I have lived in poverty my entire life, not only here but in west michigan as well. You can go right ahead and say its just the small towns like newberry or curtis or engadine that don't have jobs, etc. But that isnt the truth the entire U.P is basically divided from lower michigan, we get all the laws and obligations as they do but we don't have the perks such as community based things and a better job market. The thing is there are alot of downfalls living up here but mainly to get anywhere in life you have to be born in to it, know people or get lucky. As for me im none of those things so yes go ahead and bash the young and poor like me but I will tell you this right now me and my husband work harder than most 35-40 yr olds up here yet we are stuck in a rut called poverty and then we slowly but surely give up hopes of ever being able to not having to worry about rent or food and thus causeing a decline in what you call "work ethic". People my age have it the hardest in this state, if you cant go to college its work and work and live with others to try to save and then life hits you and your a homeless 20 something yr old and you have no idea how to figure life out. Everything isnt black and white peolpe its not always the job sometimes its the people other times its just small mistakes and you can be stuck in the poor margin for the rest of your life.

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 9:41pm

I have a masters degree and moved back after living in lower mi for over 8 years after college. I worked in in the up for just over 2 years and had to return to lower michigan. With the exceptions of industry jobs in places like marquette there is nothing for miles. Some of our sites were a 3 to 4 hour drive and work was difficult to get. I even had a client who tell me that the problem for young people was a lack of jobs to use my proposal to hire a comany from Wisconsin to save a few bucks. The marquette are is also seeing a downturn with the closing of one of the mines and these people will be displaced with little opprutunity of a job that pays nearly that well. Most Area are to remote for any development that would bring good jobs and transportation for most manufacturing doesn't make sense for most areas as the majority of products can be made closer to population ceners and major shipping routes.

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 5:37pm

There are jobs but people out of work want a certain type of job. If they can't find their dream job they complain. Why choose to live on an ice flow then complain the yellow brick road doesn't come to your doorstep? I know for a fact truck driving jobs are needed in retail in the U.P. but the complainers don't want to drive a truck. If you want to live in a beautiful area there are trade offs. Stop blaming.

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 7:01am

I live in Menominee and the population is rising here, along with the crime and drug rate that comes along with it though.

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 7:06am

Get out while you can, this place is a dead end if you are under the age of 50. There are absolutely no opportunities here if you actually want to do something with your life, other than become an alcoholic or drug addict.

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 11:01am

There are reasons the coasts and States like Colorado are swimming in growth and money, while so much of Michigan is still struggling horribly. They know nothing stays the same, and you must adapt to an ever-changing economy, and that if you don't, you will get rolled by it.

The UP needs to attract and retain far more dedicated entrepreneurs; people willing to take financial risks on new job creation, as well as go beyond that and learn what keeps young people around. You will find answers to all of this in areas like Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Ferndale, Royal Oak, and the new core of Detroit, even Marquette to a degree (though being more removed, it faces tougher challenges). Like the horse & buggy industry getting wiped out by the auto industry, the UP is getting wiped out by its inability to adapt to the modern economy we all have to live in.

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 8:44am

This is the truth. Additionally, many communities don't allow for new entrepreneurs. Why? Due to the fact they believe competition will hurt the existing businesses, and the elitist families who own them. I've seen it in my hometown in the UP, and discuss it with friends from others. They fear competition and growth, where in reality it can be a great thing.

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 4:44pm

There are plenty of jobs ... in the Lower Peninsula. There are good jobs. There are training programs to qualify for those jobs. There are companies willing to support you while you get training.
This just seems like a good excuse to head back to "sweet home alabama". Fine. Whatever. Be sure to write.

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 8:32am

Actually, the reason people do not want to live here is super simple. People cannot seem to do their jobs.. wether it be McDonalds or the Hospital.. mundane tasks, like being on time.. is a real struggle for Yoopers. Think about Marquette, the biggest city for miles, yet on weekdays, alot of business shut down early, 4 or 5 pm. It does not take a genius to figure out, they could make alot more money from out of towners, if they just stayed open a few hours longer. The hospital is a joke, you would have better luck preforming surgery on yourself. Also, everyone is rude. Who would want to live here? Some of us are just stuck.

Sat, 07/20/2019 - 3:07pm

I was born and raised in the UP, got a college degree, and knew I had to leave to find employment. I now live in the Northeast and can see the great difference between the two areas. Transportation is one. It is difficult to get to the UP even by air. Auto and truck traffic has to go thru towns and in the summer the slowest car determines the speed of all. Shopping is an issue in most of the UP. The MTU bookstore sells suits because the nearest store to sell them is in Marquette. The weather is terrible in the UP. The few months that are nice enough to go out without a heavy coat are full of blood sucking bugs. Medical care is sub par in the UP. People with dire conditions have to travel out of state for care. There is a lack of markets in the UP. This causes greater transportation costs for most of the goods purchased . I know from experience food is higher in the UP as compared to the east coast.
Employment is by far a problem in the UP. Government is the biggest supplier of jobs. But even there I don't expect MTU or Nothern which support two cities to be able to compete with other colleges.

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 7:33pm

I wish it was da way it usta was. Can't get no job no more, but I don't want to move. Darn trolls terk mer jerbs. ~~~shakes fist~~~

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 10:16am

I also think the decline in population has a lot to do with the village government system that only allows certain businesses to establish them self. Unless you are politically connected our have the money can you put in certain people's hands you will not get the business permits necessary to open neu business in ontonagon co. Ask the officials with Shopko....

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 9:31am

Native to Iron County, 60 years old, graduate of MTU and LSSU, I have worked in Milwaukee (machinery OEM), DeToilet (auto industry), and Arizona/NewMexico (mining). The mining company I recently worked for had 54 openings for diesel engine mechanics prior to Covid-19, a huge multinational corporation - mining is where the ore is and nobody can do a thing about that. Weekends in mountains there means being around herds of elk, wild horses, antelope, bighorn sheep, mountain views, trout fishing lakes at 9000', wild turkeys, warmer winters, snow covered mountain tops, and virtually zero mosquitos. Parts of Arizona have low, cactus riddled deserts, but other parts rival the alpine beauty of Yellowstone. I hope to have a place in the UP during retirement, but it aint the only nice place on earth to live.

Russ Riutta
Sat, 07/25/2020 - 3:30pm

I grew up north of Hancock Mi in the shadow of the Quincy Mining Company complex of surface buildings. As a child those abandoned buildings and the ruins of the shafthouses that once stood along the side of the highway heading north to Calumet were our playground. We had no idea that we were breathing in toxic materials. Years later as an adult I decided to move when I found out the well water I'd been drinking for the previous 35 years wasn't drinkable-it was contaminated and the only possible source of the contaminants was the mine. In the last 45 years, with the exception of 3 people every one that died in that little town died of one form of cancer or another. There is no way that could be a coincidence. I'm talking about 25-30 people, all living in very close proximity to the mine complex and all drinking water from shallow wells. I went to the State with my concerns and I was blown off. I went to the feds and it was the same thing-nobody wanted to hear it, nobody wanted to look into it. Those mines brought wealth to a few and misery to many. I no longer live in that area but people continue to die from various forms of cancer. I wonder if anyone will ever look into it. I won't hold my breath.

Fri, 10/16/2020 - 10:25pm

I love the nortern peninsula best years of my life at the porcupine mou tains and a college wrestler at nmu I am writing a book maybe the book will bring the state back to life