Census shows big population drops in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed some of Michigan’s largest percentage population losses were in the state’s Upper Peninsula, while three of the state’s four most populous counties gained people.

The U.P. for years has struggled through job losses tied to downturns in the manufacturing and mining industries.

Luce County along Lake Superior in the eastern U.P. had a population loss of 19.5% from 2010 to 2020, while Ontonagon County along the lake in the northwest U.P. dropped 14.2% over that time, according to data released Thursday.

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Gogebic, the westernmost county, saw its population drop by 12.5%.

Census figures released in April showed that, as a whole, Michigan grew slightly in population to 10,077,331 in 2020, but the increase was not enough to stop the state from losing a U.S. House seat.

Meanwhile, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Kent — in that order — remained the state’s most populous counties over the past decade.

Only Wayne, which has Detroit as its largest city, lost people, dipping from 1,820,584 in 2010 to 1,793,561 last year.

Oakland County, north and northwest of Detroit, showed the biggest numerical gain of just over 72,000. Oakland had 1,274,395 residents last year and 1,202,362 in 2010.

The 657,974 people living in Kent County in western Michigan in 2020 were 55,352 more than in 2010, while Macomb County had a bump of more than 30,000, growing from 840,978 to 881,217 over the decade.

As expected, Detroit’s population continued a decades-long slide that began in the 1950s when more than 1.8 million people filled the 139-square-mile city.

More: Detroit plans to fight census count

The 2020 census pegs the Motor City’s population at 639,111, a decrease of about 6% from 2010 when the census count showed 713,777 residents.

Mayor Mike Duggan said in a news release that census workers told last year how Detroit neighborhoods were being undercounted and that their efforts prematurely were halted. Duggan also said that census data released Thursday shows 254,000 occupied households in Detroit, but utility DTE Energy reports nearly 280,000 households paying electric bills.

"At a minimum, the census somehow failed to count 25,000 occupied houses with running electricity," Duggan said. "It appears the Census Bureau has undercounted Detroit’s population by at least 10%. We will be pursuing our legal remedies to get Detroit an accurate count."

Obtaining an accurate count is critical because the census determines the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal spending and decides which states gain or lose congressional seats.

Detroit’s census count of 639,111 "seems exceptionally low to me," said Ren Farley, a research scientist at the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan.

"The Census Bureau, in June of this year, published an estimate of Detroit’s population as of July 1, 2020. That number was 668,000," Farley said Thursday. "Given the estimates that the Census Bureau has been making, I thought the count for Detroit would be about 660,000 to 670,000."

Census figures also shows a slight shift in the state’s racial makeup.

Michigan’s Hispanic and Latino population has grown from 2010 to 2020, while the number of white and Black residents has decreased, the Census Bureau says.

Figures from the 2020 census show that the 564,422 Hispanics and Latinos in Michigan make up 5.6% of the state’s residents, up from 4.4% in 2010. That number is over 128,000 more than were counted in the previous census.

Whites — at nearly 74% — make up the vast majority of Michigan residents, but the more than 7.4 million counted in 2020 are 358,146 fewer than those tallied in 2010.

Meanwhile, Michigan’s 1.3 million Black residents make up 13.7% of the 2020 population. That’s 23,783 fewer than in 2010 when the group comprised 14.2% of Michigan residents.