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March 2013

Michigan’s First Year of Population Growth Shows Wide Variations

The Census Bureau has released its latest population estimates for 2012 today.  The estimates cover metropolitan statistical areas, micropolitan statistical areas and counties.  The numbers show that the Great Plains and West Texas contained many of the fastest growing areas in the country, including Casper, Wyoming and Bismarck, North Dakota.  Why you may ask?  The answer from Bureau staff is…”There are probably many factors fueling this growth on the prairie, but no doubt the energy boom is playing a role. For instance, the Permian Basin, located primarily in West Texas, and North Dakota accounted for almost half of the total U.S. growth in firms that mine or extract oil and gas, during a recent one-year period.”

The Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas are estimated to have gained more than 100,000 residents between 2011 and 2012.  All four are among the five largest metros in the country.  The fifth one (ranked #3) is Chicago, which gained just under 27,000.

The greatest percentage gains were generally experienced by the smaller, lower ranked metros, among which were Midland and Odessa, Texas; Clarksville, Tennessee; Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin and The Villages in Florida; Jacksonville, North Carolina; and Casper, Wyoming.  The largest metro to join the percentage gainers was Austin-Round Rock, Texas, which gained almost 54,000 residents and held its ranking of 35th out of 381.

Needless to say, no Michigan metros, micros or counties made it on any of the top growth lists.  Nevertheless, there were interesting stories to be found in the numbers. Michigan has a role to play, with seven of its fifteen metropolitan areas1 experiencing population growth over the last year.  Table 1 presents the results for those areas.

Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Population of Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1,  2010 to July 1, 2012

Table 1 Kurt Census

The Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area2 led all others with the addition of 9,194 residents.  What is more significant is the fact that it passed the 1 million population mark and joined 51 other areas (it ranks 52nd) in this elite group.  Other momentous population achievements were Los Angeles passing 13 million, Philadelphia passing 6 million and Las Vegas reaching 2 million.

The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metropolitan area also experienced population growth for a change, adding 4,094 residents.  It saw a split in the fortunes of its component counties, with large gains in Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties, a small gain in Lapeer, and large losses in Wayne and St. Clair counties.  In spite of this growth, the metropolitan area’s national ranking dropped from 13th to 14th as the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ metropolitan area passed it by with the addition of 77,456 residents.

The other Michigan metros to add over 1,000 residents were the one-county Ann Arbor metro (up 2,309) and the two-county Kalamazoo-Portage metro (up 1,681) where the attraction of the Kalamazoo Promise outweighed losses in neighboring Van Buren County.


The largest population loss was experienced by the Flint metropolitan area where Genesee County dropped by 3,645 residents, primarily due to a net flow of more than 4,500 residents out of the county.  This loss resulted in the largest ranking change of any Michigan metros and one of the largest in the country.  Flint’s rank dropped four spots from 121st to 125th.  Its ranking after the 2010 Census was 116th.

A total of 26 out of Michigan’s 83 counties gained population over the 2011-12 period.  They were led by Oakland, Kent, Macomb, Ottawa and Washtenaw.  A listing of the top 15 growth counties is shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Top 15 Michigan Population Growth Counties Between 2011 and 2012

Table 2 Kurt Census

Outmigration was the driving force leading to county population losses, seen in Table 3.  Wayne County experienced a slight decrease in its net migration from previous years, but it was only enough to keep population loss below 10,000.  The single county metros made up of Genesee, Saginaw, Bay, Monroe, Berrien and Calhoun all showed up in the list of major population losers.  They were joined by a mix of outlying metro counties (St. Clair and Van Buren), several micropolitan counties (Shiawassee, Lenawee and Hillsdale) and four non-metro counties.

Table 3. Top 15 Michigan Population Loss Counties Between 2011 and 2012

Table 3 Kurt Census

Data Driven Detroit will be posting complete files for all U.S. metropolitan and micropolitan areas, as well as U.S. counties on our website by the end of this week.  In the coming months, the Census Bureau will release 2012 estimates of the total population of cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.  You will be the first to know how Michigan is measuring up.

[1] A complete list of metropolitan and micropolitan areas can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.
[2] The composition of the metro area has changed based on the new metropolitan area definitions released by the federal government of February 28, 2013.  See the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin for details.

Meet the D3 Staff: David Mieksztyn

This Q&A is the third in a series of profiles of Data Driven Detroit staff members.

David Mieksztyn came to work at Data Driven Detroit after working on his urban planning capstone project in 2010 at Wayne State University with Assistant Director of Projects, Erica Raleigh. He primarily focuses his attentions on spatializing data with Arc GIS programs; projects at D3 often involve a map or two or two hundred (see our Student Dispersion Tool), so David frequently provides his experience in mapping. David has intermittently volunteered with Elevate Detroit, a community barbeque held every Saturday at 2nd and Cass Avenues in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.

Where did you grow up?  Clinton Township, MI

Where did you go to school?  Wayne State University for undergraduate and graduate studies.


David Mieksztyn

What is your degree in? Why did you choose your degree?  I have a BA in history and an MA in urban planning.  At the time, the urban studies major was only available as a co-major, meaning I still needed a major to successfully complete my undergraduate degree.  That freed me to study something I liked but otherwise may have passed up.  I studied history and got to answer others how I was not going to become a teacher/librarian/museum curator (which resulted in a lot of confusion and sympathy).  Ultimately I was projecting towards a master in urban planning, which I completed in 2011.

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us? I have been playing the guitar since the age of 7.

What is your history with Detroit?
  Growing up in the suburbs, I would come down for sporting events and the Auto Show as a child.  The urban setting captivated me when I went for a visit to Wayne State University prior to selecting a school for my undergrad.  I have studied, lived and/or worked continuously in Detroit for nearly a decade.

What did you do before working at D3?
  I worked as a code enforcement officer for the city of Roseville, just north of Detroit (sorry if I wrote you a ticket!).  Just prior to joining D3, I was a full time graduate student and had finished an internship at a local architecture firm.

What do you like about working at D3? How do you think the work you are doing benefits the city/region? 
Putting data to use for people, be it maps or otherwise, can be a life-altering experience for those who have a plan and concept, but want to be able to target the greatest needs.  Visualizing data helps remove vague concepts or assumptions that were the basis of prior decisions.  It is important for our regional story to be shared and decision-makers to be better equipped, from the neighborhood group to the state government.

What is your favorite D3 map or data visualization?
The student dispersion project turned out to be a very eye opening tool.  We utilized specific GIS functions to make this possible, and we now have a map series that raises important questions about student commuting distances to schools in Detroit.

What is your favorite type of data?
  Housing data.

Who or what inspired you to take the path to Detroit, data or both?
  Becoming an advocate for those who are in the greatest need motivates me, and in Detroit there is no shortage of challenges to overcome.  Data can help us discover underutilized assets and diamonds in the rough.  To solve the big challenges in Detroit we must approach at all levels, helping in the communities, volunteering, becoming a great neighbor, and informing the public with data.