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Highlights of Michigan’s New Statewide Population Projections Through 2050

Michigan is projected to experience slow population growth for the next decade and then population decline through 2050 even with positive net migration. Two potential population trajectories for the state were examined: Michigan’s main forecast with net positive migration and an alternate forecast with a zero migration scenario. In the main forecast, Michigan’s population is projected to increase by approximately 230,000 people (2.3 percent) from 2022 through 2034, and then decline to 9,906,000 people by 2050. This represents an overall decline of approximately 130,000 people from 2022 to 2050 (-1.3 percent), even with the projected net positive migration to Michigan.

The zero migration scenario provides a striking example of what the state’s population trajectory could look like with no migration flow to the state. Without net positive migration, population decline would occur earlier in Michigan and be more severe through 2050. Specifically, the state population could decline by 692,000 people (-6.9 percent) from 2022 to 2050 with zero migration, compared to a decline of 128,000 (-1.3 percent) with net positive migration.

Read and download the full report.

Even with positive migration, Michigan is projected to continue experiencing slow growth and then population decline beginning in the 2030s.

Michigan Total Population, Historical and Projected

 Michigan total population, historical and projected

Source: WONDER Database, Centers for Disease Control; 2024 Vintage Population Projections, Michigan Center for Data and Analytics; Population Estimates Program, U.S. Census Bureau 

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Why is Population Growth Challenging for Michigan?

Michigan has shifted from a young, higher fertility population to an older, lower fertility population over the last century, creating a challenging situation for sustained population growth. Michigan’s long-term decline in births is projected to continue through 2050 and as the baby boomers age into high mortality years, deaths will continue to increase. Michigan is projected to transition to sustained and steepening natural decrease (more deaths than births) through 2050. While Michigan is among the states leading the transition to natural decrease, it isn’t alone. In fact, the U.S. is projected to transition to natural decrease in 2038 (2023 vintage population projections, U.S. Census Bureau), meaning that from 2038 onward, national population growth is projected to depend entirely on international migration.

As births likely decline and deaths increase, Michigan is projected to experience sustained and steepening natural decrease through 2050.

Michigan Natural Change (Births Minus Deaths), Historical and Projected

Michigan natural change (births minus deaths), historical and projected

Source: 1920–2022 Michigan Resident Birth and Death Files, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; 2024 Vintage Population Projections, Net Positive Migration Scenario, Michigan Center for Data and Analytics

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Migration Will Play a Critical Role in Michigan’s Population Trajectory

Since the 1970s, Michigan has typically had net negative migration. However, future population growth in the state will soon be entirely dependent on net positive migration. As natural decrease becomes more severe, Michigan’s future population growth will be reliant on sustaining higher levels of net positive migration.

Substantial population growth for the state from natural increase is unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, if Michigan maintains net positive migration near the positive levels in the 1990s, the state potentially has another five to 10 years until natural decrease is so severe that net positive migration is unlikely to offset it.

Michigan is projected to have levels of migration similar to the 1990s if migrants are attracted to Michigan for employment as baby boomers retire.

Michigan Historical Migration and Projected Net Positive Scenario

Michigan historical migration and projected net positive scenario

Source: 1970–2022 Migration Estimates and 2024 Vintage Population Projections, Michigan Center for Data and Analytics

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For additional information, including a breakdown of the components of population change and a description of the methodology used to generate the 2050 estimates, please review the full report. Population projections data by age group is available at POPPROJ (milmi.org).

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