News Story

Growth officer: Michigan a ‘leaky bucket’ for young people

Southeast Michigan would be shrinking if not for immigration

Michigan has two problems in the 18-34 demographic, Chief Growth Officer Hilary Doe told lawmakers Thursday: Its college graduates leave the state, and young adults from other states don’t move to Michigan.

“Michigan, as you may know, is 49th out of 50 in terms of folks living there who were born there,” Doe told the Senate Economic and Community Development Committee on Thursday. “So if you were born in or if you live in Michigan, you're very likely to have been born here. The only state that performs worse on that metric is Louisiana.”

Doe testified on the work of the Growing Michigan Together Council, which wrapped up in December with its final report.

“Michigan is an out-migration state,” Doe testified. “Domestically, we lose more folks than we gain. And that is a problem. We have a leaky bucket, for lack of better description.”

While the state isn’t inordinately bad at losing its youth, Doe said, Michigan does tend to lose its young college-educated residents.

Doe noted how Michigan’s economic position has deteriorated over the last several decades. In 1980, Michigan had five of America’s top ten median-income communities, Doe said. In 2016, it had zero.

“States with higher incomes tend to have higher in-migration,” Doe said.

If there is one “green line” where Michigan’s population numbers are increasing, it’s among immigrants, Doe testified.

“It helps offset our out-migration a little bit,” Doe said.

A SEMCOG report, prepared by the University of Michigan, found that in the decade between 2010 and 2019, Southeast Michigan took in an average of 14,012 foreign-born residents per year. But every year it also lost 14,737 people who were 65 or younger. Michigan only gained 5,464 new people per year in that decade.

“Without international migration,” the report reads, “Southeast Michigan’s population would have been declining in every year.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.