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2011-03-23

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Census shows population of Ann Arbor stable, but falls in Detroit

By Adam Rubenfire, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 22, 2011

Though several municipalities across Michigan may see changes in state or federal funding they receive due to dips in population sizes, Ann Arbor is most likely not one of them.

The results of the U.S. Census, which were released yesterday, show that though Ann Arbor’s population has not substantially changed in the last 10 years, the population in Washtenaw County has increased by about 7 percent. But a more significant change has occurred in Detroit, where the city’s population diminished by 25 percent in the past decade.

While its population has remained fairly constant, Ann Arbor has moved up from the seventh to the sixth largest city in the state.

Lisa Neidert, senior research associate in the Population Studies Center at the University’s Institute for Social Research, said the population changes were mostly expected and there was nothing "real earth shattering" about Ann Arbor's results.

However, Neidert said a closer examination of Ann Arbor would most likely reveal significant changes about the population. She pointed to racial dynamics in the city as a key area of interest for her, saying she plans to analyze if the Hispanic and Asian populations have increased.

Ann Arbor’s population has been “very steady” for the past few years, and its rise in the population size rank doesn’t have major implications for the city since many Michigan cities have similar population numbers, Neidert said. She said while the local results didn't surprise her, other numbers did. Detroit saw a 25-percent loss in population and Wayne County recorded a 12-percent overall population drop, according to the results.

Detroit’s results are notable considering that the counties that surround Wayne County and Detroit — like Washtenaw County — didn’t absorb Detroiters who left the city, Neidert said. Since Michigan doesn’t require residents to register their new addresses with authorities after they move, it’s difficult to know where the departing residents ended up, she said.

Jim Kosteva, the University’s director of community relations, said the census results aren’t particularly relevant to the University.

“The census has relatively little direct impact upon the University since there are few, if any, financial awards or grants that have any relationship to population,” Kosteva said.

However, any changes regarding city funding could have an indirect impact on the University community, he said.

Ann Arbor City Council member Mike Anglin (D–Ward 5) said he thinks Ann Arbor’s population stability is most likely due to a constant influx and outflow of students, professionals and other people who aren’t grounded in the city.

“We have a subpopulation of transients for sure,” Anglin said, adding that he doesn’t think city funding will be greatly affected by the results.

“I don’t see the state funding changing very much,” Anglin said. “I think more and more of the burden of local government is going to remain with local government and that revenue sharing … will start to cut back.”

Anglin said he thinks other cities in the state experienced population losses due to changes in the automotive industry. But Ann Arbor has a more “sustainable employment situation than most,” he said.

Still, Anglin said he’s not sure Ann Arbor has “good jobs” to offer, adding that he would like to see more manufacturing companies in the city.

“The fact that someone is employed in retail, as far as I’m concerned, is not one of the jobs that I would put in the middle class,” he said.

More important to the city’s population sustainability, Anglin said, is keeping companies that were started here in Ann Arbor.