Detroit’s census headcount critical as population decreases

This April 5, 2020, photo shows a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau needs more time to wrap up the once-a-decade count because of the coronavirus, opening the possibility of delays in drawing new legislative districts that could help determine what political party is in power, what laws pass or fail and whether communities of color get a voice in their states. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – Detroit has lost more residents since 2010 than any other big city in the nation, closing out the last decade with another year of falling population, new census figures show.

The estimates released Thursday come as the 2020 census is underway. But as of May 19, Detroit’s response rate for the latest census was 46% — one of the lowest of the nation’s big cities, according to The Detroit News. That stands in contrast to a statewide rate of 66%, which is fourth highest in the U.S.

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Mayor Mike Duggan said it’s important to make sure every resident is counted in 2020 since nearly $30 billion in federal funding based on population data is accessible to Michigan every year.

“For us to get the resources we deserve, we need to make sure everyone is counted,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh, executive director of the Michigan 2020 Census.

Michigan’s population overall grew slightly in 2019, by nearly 2,800 residents to just under 10 million, according to census estimates.

Xuan Liu, director of research and data analysis for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said the Detroit area's population is shrinking because fewer people are moving to the city, more are moving out, and the population is aging.

“That trend doesn’t help the city,” Liu said in an email. “The current pandemic may also have negative impacts on the city’s population, as social distancing doesn’t favor higher density, and even fewer people may migrate to here.”