The Population in These 6 Michigan Counties is Declining Rapidly

Michigan is the 10th-most populous state with 10.12 million citizens. The Census Bureau predicted Great Lakes annual reductions starting in 2045. Stagnant growth in the state will reduce employment, customers, and tax revenues. Only West Virginia had a worse population decrease than Michigan. The state ranks 49th in the nation with 8.4% growth since 1990. Which Michigan counties are losing population?

The Census counted 17 cities that lost over 1,000 population. Detroit, Ann Arbor, Warren, Dearborn, Grand Rapids, Sterling Heights, Livonia, and Flint. The problem is that losses keep coming! An estimated 843 persons left Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, one year after losing 947. A city’s population decline doesn’t mean the county is in jeopardy.

Not all is lost for the Mitten State—there’s hope! The state’s college towns benefited as students returned in 2022 after the pandemic. East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Marquette, Ypsilanti, and Allendale Township are Ottawa County towns.

Look out for these Michigan counties’ declining populations!

Wayne County

Wayne County is Michigan’s most populous but is declining. The U.S. Census Bureau reports 1,793,561 county residents. This makes it the 19th most populous US county. Wayne County is Michigan’s largest county, yet most residents fled between 2020 and 2022. The 16,030-person decline makes it the seventh-worst county drop in the nation. Over 2020–2022, Wayne County lost 36,506 inhabitants, a 1.8% decline.

Detroit, the state’s largest city, is located in the county. The city fell to 29th in the nation after losing about 1% of its population, or 7,791 people. It has fewer people than Memphis or Louisville. Wayne County declined due to crime. Crime is greater in Detroit than in 99.9% of other cities, according to


Washtenaw County lost 1.6% inhabitants since 2020. It is Michigan’s sixth-largest county with 366,376 residents, although its population is declining as residents leave the city.

Ann Arbor Township led the county in population increase over those two years, rising 5%. Ann Arbor, its urban neighbor, lost 3%, or 4,000 persons.

The Population in These 6 Michigan Counties is Declining Rapidly

People are moving to neighboring counties and states due to retirement, wanting to be closer to family, pandemic-related lifestyle changes, and high home costs in unattractive cities.

Gratiot County

Since 2010, Gratiot County has shrunk by 0.2% annually. The 39th-largest county in the state. The population was 42,476 in 2010 and is now estimated at 41,545.

The county seat of Gratiot, Ithaca, is losing population by 0.32% annually. The city’s population dropped.94% to 2,863 in the latest Census. The county’s natural decline may be affecting population numbers and residents leaving for other alternatives. Births are falling and deaths soaring. Residents of Michigan are leaving for faster-growing Midwest states like Ohio.

Macomb County

Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties lost population. From 2021 to 2022, some counties lost over 1,000 population, including Macomb. The county’s population dropped 0.8% to 874,195.

Since the eastern county borders Lake St. Clair and northern Metro Detroit, its population fell. Detroit’s population dropped by over 8,000 in recent years, according to the US Census Bureau. Detroit’s crime and housing shortage affect neighboring counties. Residents are going south for cheaper homes in better areas, fewer taxes, warmer weather, and remote work.

The County of Oakland

Northern Detroit suburbs are concentrated in Oakland County, another major Detroit metropolitan area county. It is the second-most populous county in the state after Wayne County and the largest in the US without a 100,000-person metropolis. By 2010, it was one of the 10 wealthiest counties in the US with over one million residents. The county has 1,269,431 persons, down 0.4%. In the last two years, the county population has fallen. The Census counted 1,269,431, almost 5,000 fewer than the 2020 Census.

The Population in These 6 Michigan Counties is Declining Rapidly

The county’s population decreased for a second year in 2022 as births and deaths increased. Domestic migration drove population change in Oakland County again. Other counties and the state suffered as young people left for education and jobs and older residents retired to other states, especially the South.

St. Clair County

With 160,151 residents, St. Clair County isn’t Michigan’s largest or busiest county, but its population dropped 0.1%. The 13th-most populous county borders the west bank of the St. Clair River and has its county seat, Port Huron, on Lake Huron at the north end.

Rural counties and riverside towns lose population owing to dwindling agriculture and extractive industries like mining and oil. Rural places lose population due to natural decreases: more deaths than births. Because citizens move to rural locations for a tranquil life, towns can survive natural decline.


Michigan faces population declines, notably in Wayne County, where Detroit’s crime rates contribute to a 1.8% drop. Washtenaw, Gratiot, Macomb, Oakland, and St. Clair Counties also experience varying declines due to factors like suburbanization, natural decreases, and residents seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Despite these challenges, college towns show promise amid population shifts.


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