Estimated Population of Michigan Counties: 2000-2003

New population estimates for each county of the United States are produced every year between decennial censuses.  These estimates are the product of a joint effort by the Population Division of the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal State Cooperative Program for Population Estimates (FSCPE).  Revised figures are released for previous years as well as new figures for the year that has just ended.



Table 1: Estimated Population of Michigan Counties, April 2000-July 2003 (PDF file)  (Excel spreadsheet)

Table 2: Estimated Components of Population Change for Michigan Counties, April 2000-July 2003 (PDF file)  (Excel spreadsheet)

Table 3: Estimated Annual Components of Population Change for Michigan Counties, April 2000-July 2003  (PDF file)  (Excel spreadsheet)


Map 1: Estimated Rates of Population Growth of Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003(PDF file) 

Map 2: Estimated Rates of Total Net Migration of Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 

Map 3: Estimated Rates of Net International Migration of Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 

Map 4: Estimated Rates of Net Domestic Migration of Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 

Map 5: Estimated Rates of Natural Increase of Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 

Map 6: Estimated Crude Birth Rates for Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 

Map 7: Estimated Crude Death Rates for Michigan Counties: 2000 - 2003 (PDF file) 


Patterns of Population Change

The new estimates indicate that 63 Michigan counties gained population from April 2000 to July 2003, including 13 counties that grew more than 4 percent during this 39-month period..  (See Table 1) and Map 1).

Livingston County continues to be the fastest growing county in Michigan, with a 10.1 percent population increase since the census. Other counties in the Detroit CMSA that experienced rapid growth include Washtenaw (4.9 percent) and Lapeer (3.9 percent).

Seven counties in the northern Lower Peninsula grew by more than 4 percent: Benzie (6.8 percent), Grand Traverse (5.6 percent), Missaukee (4.9 percent), Antrim (4.3 percent) , Otsego (4.2 percent), Emmet (4.1%), and Lake (4.1%). Eight other nearby counties grew by more than 2.5 percent, once again making the northwestern and north central portions of the Lower Peninsula the fastest-growing areas of the state.  Rapid growth also occurred in several counties clustered in or near the Grand Rapids metropolitan area. Ottawa, Oceana, and Allegan counties grew by 4.6 percent, 4.5 percent, and 4.4 percent respectively, while 7 other nearby counties grew by more than 2.5 percent.

The new estimates indicate that 20 other Michigan counties lost population since the 2000 census, including 12 out of the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula. Estimated population levels grew less than 1 percent in the remaining 3 counties of the U.P. Four Michigan counties, all of them in the Upper Peninsula, have lost more than 2.5 percent of their population since the last census.   Population losses also occurred in 6 counties along the Lake Huron shore, from Presque Isle in the northeastern Lower Peninsula to Huron at the tip of the Thumb. Several counties adjacent to these shoreline counties also experienced slow growth or small population declines.  

Wayne County was the only southeastern Michigan county to experience a decrease in population. Its 1.6 percent decline was the 8th largest rate of decline in the state, surpassed by 4 counties in the U.P and 3 counties on the shore of Lake Huron. Although Wayne County continues to lose population, it should be noted that the rate of loss has slowed considerably since the 1970s and 1980s.  Despite lower birth rates and a weaker economy, the county's estimated annual rate of population loss from 2000 - 2003 is only one-quarter of a percent higher than the rate experienced in the 1990s.

Components of Population Change

Population changes reflect the combined effect of migration, births, and deaths. These components of population change are shown in Table 2 and in Table 3.

Two components of migration are estimated separately-international migration between Michigan counties and foreign countries, and domestic migration among counties within the United States. For the state as a whole, population gains through international migration were approximately equal to population losses through domestic migration between April 2000 and July 2003.  The combined effect of international and domestic migration on Michigan counties is illustrated in Map 2

International Migration (See Map 3). Estimated gains through international migration have been highest for metropolitan counties and counties with large universities. With the exception of Houghton County-which gains a significant number of international migrants through Michigan Technological University-growth through this component of migration is low throughout the Upper Peninsula and the northern Lower Peninsula. Rates of international migration are assumed to be constant over the period covered by these estimates.

The Census Bureau has assumed that rates of international migration have not changed during the period covered by these estimates.

Domestic Migration (See Map 4). The highest estimated rate of growth through domestic migration since the census occurred in Livingston county on the outskirts of metropolitan Detroit. Rates of in-migration have also been high for most counties in the northwestern and north central Lower Peninsula. Estimated growth through domestic migration is also fairly high for Clinton county on the outskirts of Lansing and for several counties on the outskirts of Grand Rapids and metropolitan Detroit. This largely reflects movement of established families and older adults from central metropolitan counties to outlying communities. Net in-migration to Gogebic County largely reflects movement of prisoners into the new Ojibway Correctional Facility.

Most major metropolitan counties, on the other hand, have net out-migration to other areas. In addition to a movement from big cities to outlying communities as individuals grow older, this also reflects a movement of foreign-born residents to other areas after they have completed their education. Foreign students are counted as international migrants when they arrive in the U.S., but they are counted as domestic migrants if they subsequently move from one location in the U.S. to another.

Most counties in the Upper Peninsula and the northeastern Lower Peninsula also tend to have high levels of domestic out-migration. This largely reflects a movement of young adults to cities for education and employment that is only partially offset, in some of these counties, by in-migration of older adults and retirees.

Natural Increase (See Map 5). Natural increase is the difference between the number of births and the number of deaths. The highest rates are in metropolitan counties, reflecting a tendency for many young adults to move to metropolitan counties for education and employment. This increases the proportion of residents of childbearing age and decreases the proportion in the ages that are subject to high mortality. These effects are most prominent in counties that have had high levels of population growth in recent years. Thus, Michigan's highest rates of natural increase are in Kent, Ottawa, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties.

In contrast, the rate of natural increase is negative in 31 Michigan counties, including 13 of the 15 counties of the Upper Peninsula and several counties of the northeastern Lower Peninsula and the Thumb-many of the same counties that experienced overall population loss since the census. This reflects an older age structure in these counties. These counties tend to lose many of their younger residents to metropolitan areas, while attracting a significant number of older adults and retirees. These migration patterns tend to reduce the number of people of childbearing age and increase the number in ages subject to high mortality. Crude birth rates and crude death rates are illustrated in Map 6 and Map 7, respectively. 

Summary. Some Michigan counties are experiencing rapid growth while others are losing a significant number of residents. Explanations for these patterns vary from one part of the state to another. Specifically:

  • The population losses in the Upper Peninsula and northeastern Lower Peninsula reflect the combined effect of low international migration, negative domestic migration, and an excess of deaths over births.
  • The population losses for major metropolitan counties generally reflect negative rates of domestic migration that are partially offset by relatively high rates of international migration and natural increase.
  • The growth of outlying metropolitan counties typically reflects high rates of international migration, domestic migration, and natural increase.
  • In contrast, the high growth of the northwestern and north central portions of the Lower Peninsula generally reflects very high rates of domestic migration that are coupled with a small amount of international migration and low or even negative levels of natural increase.