News Story

Rural Michigan counties saw most population growth in 2022

Meanwhile, state’s most populated counties lost residents

The good news in the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest update is that only 18 of Michigan’s 83 counties lost more people to other states than they attracted in 2022. The bad news is that they are the state’s most populous counties.

Recent population trends also show more growth in sparsely populated northern counties.

A school of thought called New Urbanism promotes the idea of population density and the 15-minute city. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has a version that he calls the 20-minute neighborhood.

The premise of the 15-minute city is that people want to live in a location where they can get what they need — schools, jobs, stores, health care — within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their residence. Advocates say it has a number of benefits, including health and less global warming.

The idea does have its adherents, but some people want to be away from population density and to have more space.

Ann Arbor, which Livability rated as the No. 2 most desirable place to live in America in 2021, is in Washtenaw County, which has lost residents since 2019.

The county had 374,825 people living there in 2018. That number decreased to 373,011 in 2019, one year before the COVID-19 pandemic. The number has continued to fall, with 371,656 residents in 2020, which dropped to 369,390 in 2021, and then 366,376 in 2022.

Washtenaw was not the only larger-population county to lose people in 2022. The others were Branch, Berrien, Kalamazoo, Genesee, Ingham, Macomb, Kent, Oakland and Wayne.

Counties experiencing the most population growth, by contrast, tended to have fewer people.

Ottawa County took the top spot for population increase, with 2,783 new residents.

Livingston County came in second with 2,449 new residents. Other counties with top population growth were Grand Traverse, Muskegon, Mecosta and Barry.

The county that saw the largest increase, in percentage terms, was Montmorency, with a 7.2% increase. It is located in the northeastern part of the mitten and is largely rural. Although it is the second-least populous county in the lower peninsula, with just 9,153 residents, it took the top spot for growth as a percentage of population.

Keweenaw County was second, with a 7.1% increase. The other top counties based on percentage increase were Lake, Alcona, Crawford, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, Antrim and Oscoda, all with low density.

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.