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Report Confirms Population Slide After 2034

April 8, 2024

The Baby Boomer generation was the largest generation in United States’ history, and that holds true for Michigan. However, researchers question what will fill the population gap left behind by Baby Boomers as they die, and as birth rates in the state continue to decline.

While more than 3.4 million Baby Boomers were born in Michigan from 1946 through 1964, representing more than 343,094 births annually, birth rates are anticipated to drop to under 80,000 by 2050. Essentially, a recent state report previews a new dynamic affecting Michigan’s future population – one where there are more Baby Boomer deaths than there are new births.

The Michigan Center for Data and Analytics released a report on what the population of the state would look like through 2050. While the national population is projected to grow by approximately 8 percent from 2022 to 2050, Michigan’s population is expected to fall by 1.3 percent – or by about 128,000 people – during the same time frame.

The slow growth would see a flip in the natural increase as the Baby Boomer generation increased in age. The report projects more deaths than births, which would force the state to rely heavily on both domestic and international migration to maintain or increase the population.

The state is projected to have a slower growth rate and an earlier onset of population decline than the rest of the United States.

Citizens Research Council (CRC) President Eric Lupher said there wasn’t much difference between the state report and a report released by CRC in 2023.

Lupher said the numbers they used were from the University of Michigan Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics. He also said the council’s report was more of a “30,000-foot flyover” that didn’t get into the birth and death data as much as the state demographer.

“We’re sort of (on) the cusp of it now,” he said, explaining how in coming years, negative natural growth will become more “severe, more noticeable,” which “is to say more deaths than births.”

He said as the Baby Boomers start dying off, it would become increasingly necessary for states to draw migrants from both other states and internationally.

“I would suggest it needs to be on our radar now and clearly what the governor has been doing is (putting it) on the radar, because a lot of the Baby Boomer generation has already retired, and we are struggling to replace them in the workforce,” he said.

One of the biggest obstacles to international migration seems to be coming in the form of gridlock on the issue in Congress and vitriolic rhetoric surrounding immigration in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election.

Lupher said despite the cries against immigration in Michigan, that there were still vibrant populations of immigrants across the state, including Hispanic populations in southwest Michigan and Arabic populations in the southeast.

“It gets messy, right? I don’t think this is one where rhetoric and reality always meet up,” Lupher said.

He said the demographer’s population report put a larger spotlight on the need for Michigan to start looking at how to grow the population and put a bigger emphasis on the recommendations made by the Growing Michigan Together Council.

“We have to keep attention on this, not say, ‘we wrote a report, and now we can wash our hands of it,’ because it’s going to require policy changes. It’s going to require a lot of hard work to do something meaningful,” Lupher said.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also released a report in 2023 regarding population growth in Michigan. The Center’s Director of Fiscal Policy James Hohman agreed that the state is mirroring national trends, but with a slight exaggeration.

Hohman said the state not growing was nothing new, because Michigan has maintained a population of roughly 10 million people since the year 2000.

He said the Mackinac Center report had other ideas as to how to grow the population in the state, which also included attracting migration to the state.

“There’s not really a lot that affects the natural increase outside of things that are not in politicians’ control – like religiosity – but there are a lot of polices that do affect migration,”  Hohman said.

He said the number one thing affecting the natural increase was job growth and economic matters.

“People move to opportunity. It’s one of the reasons why America was populated by immigrants as people (saw) a better life for themselves and their families, and that has not ended as one reason why America still attracts people from around the world,” he said.

He said the type of immigration attracted was the big key. He pointed to states like Florida and Arizona that were seeing major domestic immigration shifts, but the demographics were skewing toward retirees.

The reasons varied for those moves, whether it was because the retirees had family or friends that moved or because they didn’t want to deal with the weather.

“I’m told that when you get older you hate winter. I hope that doesn’t happen to me, but I guess I’m going to find out at some point,” Hohman said.


Article courtesy MIRS News for SBAM’s Lansing Watchdog newsletter

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