Profile: Demographic Trends

The 11 counties of the Detroit region have a combined population of 5.41 million people. Since 2008, this regional population has grown at a slower pace than the US population.

Chart of Population Growth 2019

While the national population has grown at rates between 0.6% and 1.0% since 2009, the Detroit region’s population encountered a period of decline followed by stagnation. The regional population fell during the three years following the financial crisis. This decline in growth was gradual until a sharp drop to -1.9% in 2010. No major trends of growth or decline have been seen since 2011, when the Detroit region entered a period of population stagnation.

Chart of Population Change Components 2019

Population change in the Detroit region is driven primarily by natural births, deaths, and domestic migration. However, a very small amount of population growth comes from international migration. As expected, domestic migration to the Detroit region has fallen since the Great Recession took hold in 2008 — when out-migration caused the population to decrease by 75,738 people. After 2010, deaths and domestic out-migration were canceled out by births and international in-migration. These trends explain how population growth in the Detroit region has fallen to nearly zero since 2011.

Chart of Population by County 2019

The most populous county in the Detroit region is Wayne County with 1.75 million people — the result of a 9% decline since 2009. Oakland County follows with 1.25 million people (4.4% growth since 2009). As the primary employment hubs of the Detroit region, it comes as no surprise that Wayne and Oakland have the most residents.

Other populous counties include:

Chart of Growth by Age Group

The Detroit region population has declined in several youth and young adult age segments. Notably, the 15 to 18 age segment is declining at a rapid 14.9%. In the US at large, this age group declined by 2.7%.

Meanwhile, the Detroit region’s 35 to 39 population segment is declining at a pace of 13.3% per year. This figure contrasts sharply with the 30 to 34 group’s national growth rate of 6.3%.

Out of the entire 0 to 54 population, the only segments that grew were ages 25 to 29 and 30 to 34.

Population growth is far more common in the late middle-age and elderly segments of the population. Every segment between the ages of 55 and 79 grew over the 2009 to 2019 period.

In general, the Detroit region has matched the national trend of expanding elderly populations. For example, the 70 to 74 segment grew by over half its 2009 population in just 10 years.

Chart of Age Distibution

Raw numbers demonstrate the magnitude of the Detroit region’s recent population changes. Some major population decreases from 2008 to 2018 are:

-  People aged 0 to 19: Down by 178,561

-  People aged 35 to 54: Down by 283,860

Meanwhile, the population of people aged 20 to 29 increased by 54,565 individuals. The 70 to 74 population grew by 82,985 people.

These population dynamics show that the Detroit region is aging at rates similar to the rest of the US. However, the regional child population is shrinking far faster than the national average. This trend may eventually cause the Detroit region to enter another period of population decline.