Significant discussion has echoed off the walls of capitols and city and town halls across the state about the perceived mass exodus that’s taking place in Michigan due to the economy and a job market that may be experiencing growing pains as policy leaders attempt to move the state away from tried-and-true manufacturing to a more knowledge-based private sector. And while the state hasn’t experienced the loss of hundreds of thousands of people over the course of the last decade, the actual loss — 54,804 people — during that time period is no less staggering and, in fact, will end up costing Michigan residents a Congressional seat in Washington D.C. under U.S. Census data for the Wolverine State released on Tuesday, March 22.
Since 2000, the Michigan population has dipped by just shy of 55,000, representing a 0.6 percent decline; while Oakland County — what many call an economic hub of the metro Detroit area, even in the midst of the recession that has peppered the state with ever higher unemployment numbers and budget deficits — gained about 8,200 residents, a 0.7 percent bump up between 2000 and 2010, according to census data. There were 1,194,156 residents in the county at the turn of the century and currently there are 1,202,362. In 1990, there were 1,083,592 recorded residents of the county, indicating a nearly 11-percent climb in population in the last two decades, although the vast majority of that gain came between 1990 and 2000.
The slight increase in the county’s population will likely result in a small bump in the constitutional state revenue sharing dollars the county receives, according to Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner.
“It will be modest,” he said of additional revenues for the county. “The challenge for each of the local governments is that their infrastructure costs are what they are, irrespective of the population, so there’s going to be some right-sizing.”
And the county’s population is becoming increasingly diverse. The black population in the county is now 164,078, representing 13.6 percent of the people living in Oakland County. Latinos represent 3.5 percent of county residents, with 41,920 residing in Oakland County, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. Asians, at 67,828, make up 5.6 percent of the county’s population while American Indian and Alaskan natives, as well as native Hawaiians or other Pacific islanders, both make up less than 1 percent of the county’s residents.
Most lakes area communities posted gains in population since 2000, with the exception of the village of Milford and the village of Wolverine Lake, and Waterford and West Bloomfield townships. Communities experiencing the highest levels of population growth were Commerce, at 15.4 percent, and White Lake, which spiked 6.4 percent. The small bedroom community of Orchard Lake noticed a 7 percent population increase.
Under federal law, every 10 years the national economy experiences a brief injection in the job market as the U.S. Census Bureau hires thousands of workers around the country to help complete the decennial population tally.
The population figures the bureau produces help the state with a number of things, including the redistricting process for federal, state and local legislative districts. Long story short: That means that political power essentially is up for grabs in those areas for the next decade based on this data.
The redistricting process for the county is already under way, as the statutory five-member panel — consisting of Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston, Oakland County Republican Party Chairman Jim Thienel, Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Bill Bullard Jr., Meisner, and Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper — has met on several occasions in the last few weeks to get their ducks in a row before they hash out county commissioner districts in the statutory 60-day period allotted them.
Redistricting at the state and federal level will be taking place in the coming months, as well. Both chambers of the state Legislature have redistricting committees that have been meeting over the course of the current legislative session.
The Michigan Townships Association (MTA) notes that township populations, in total, grew by 6.2 percent since 2000, although most of the growth was situated in western Michigan, northwest Michigan, and “fringe metropolitan counties.”
“We’ll take it,” said David Bertram, legislative liaison for the MTA. “It’s not unlike what we’ve seen just from trends that we’ve seen in recent years, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to us.”
The growth in township populations will likely mean additional revenue sharing dollars for those communities, which Bertram said will be effective immediately and retroactive back to the start of the state’s current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2010. It roughly amounts to an additional $65 per person, Bertram said.
But for cities and villages as a whole, the numbers are a bit more disconcerting, particularly in Detroit, where the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that the population plummeted by 25 percent, from 951,270 in 2000 to just 713,777 in 2010.
Due to the state’s population drop, Michigan’s share of federal dollars will take a hit, resulting in less funding available for transportation programs “and a variety of other things,” said State Demographer Ken Darga, who noted that while Detroit remains the largest city in the state, it’s now the 11th-most densely populated area, even behind other metropolitan hubs like Hamtramck in the tri-county area.
It’s not uncommon for communities to challenge census data. Officials in at least four local communities — Waterford, Highland, Commerce and White Lake townships — questioned the population tallies the U.S. Census Bureau put out a decade ago, and some are skeptical of their accuracy this time around, as well.
The Count Question Resolution accepts challenge submissions for the three-year period beginning June 1 and ending June 1, 2013, according to Gordon Rector of the U.S. Census Bureau.
“The program is based on housing units, so basically a community can look block-by-block at what the housing unit count was for any and all blocks in their community and, if they see a difference, then there are procedures on what kind of evidence they provide that shows that,” Rector said. “Those are allocation issues and we try to clean those up.”
“The census figures clearly show how crucial it is to reinvent Michigan,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in a press release. “It is time for all of us to realign our expectations so that they reflect today’s realities. We cannot cling to the old ways of doing business. This is why my administration has aggressively laid out an agenda based on fiscal discipline, meaningful tax reform and regional cooperation.”
What follows is a breakdown of U.S. Census data for the 11 lakes area communities and reactions from local leaders on how the new figures will affect those municipalities in areas like revenue sharing and elsewhere.
With 40,186 residents, Commerce Township saw a population increase of about 15.4 percent from its 2000 population of 34,813.
Supervisor Tom Zoner said he was surprised by the figures, as he didn’t think the population had gone up that high during the last 10 years. He said the majority of recent requests for building permits had come after the 2010 U.S. Census was taken.
“Still it’s a decent increase for the environment we are in with the number of people leaving the state,” he said.”It shows something positive is happening in Commerce compared to other areas, but overall the state is the loser.”
Since Zoner was surprised at the population increase, he said he doesn’t believe that Commerce was under counted.
“Ten-year cycles mean a lot can happen in that time,” he said. “But the law provides for a mid-decade census if you think the population count was wrong. For example, if you thought the count was wrong in 2000, in 2005 you could have a different survey that could change the amount of money allocated to you.”
Although Commerce has lost its statutory revenues a while back, Zoner said it should see an increase in its constitutional revenue sharing dollars due to the community’s population growth.
“We were receiving a little less than $2 million, and this (population increase) might bounce us up to the $2 million mark,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zoner seems satisfied by the growth displayed in Commerce, especially when looking at other lakes area communities.
“Commerce being up 15 percent is almost twice as much as some other communities. It’s a good sign of good government and good times in Commerce Township,” he said.
Demographically, Commerce reported a 93.6 percent white population, a 2.6 percent Hispanic population, and a 1.6 percent black population.
With 33 additional new residents, Highland Township saw a population increase of 0.2 percent, from 19,169 residents at the turn of the century to 19,202 residents in 2010.
Supervisor Triscia Pilchowski said she had a sense that Highland’s population numbers would go up.
“I had a feeling we either stayed the same or had an increase. Thirty-three (residents) up is certainly better than going down. I’m pleased in that regard,” she said. “I’m just satisfied that the numbers didn’t go down like in other communities.”
Even with such a slight increase, Pilchowski said she doesn’t feel that the township was under-counted, as she did after the 2000 census figures were released. At that time, Highland opted not to challenge the census numbers as the cost to do so would’ve have been more than the potential benefit that would have come back to the township.
This time around, Pilchowski said she feels that the townships 2010 population number is “probably as accurate as it’s going to be.”
However, she said she does believe that Highland’s population has increased since the census was conducted, as she said the township has been seeing a lot of young families coming in to purchase homes.
“Just sitting here in my office, I’ve seen a lot of young people with families coming in, which is encouraging to me,” she said. “I believe it’s going to benefit the community and the school district.”
With only 33 additional residents, Pilchowski said she doesn’t expect an increase in revenue from the state to be “dramatic in any shape or form,” especially since Highland hasn’t receive much in the first place.
Demographically, Highland didn’t change much, with a 97 percent white population, 2 percent Hispanic population, and a 0.4 percent black population documented in 2010.
Milford Township’s population totaled 9,561 during the 2010 census, an increase from 8,999 in the 2000 U.S. census and 6,610 in the 1990 census.
The 2010 census report also indicates that Milford Township has a 95 percent white population (11,538), followed by 2 percent mixed-race (113), 2 percent Hispanic (199), 1 percent African-American (97) and 1 percent Asian (124).
Township Supervisor Don Green said he’s very pleased with the new census figures.
“When you look at the overall stats for the state, you assume everyone lost a little,” he said. “But this shows that this is a viable municipality in which to work, raise a family, go to school and play.”
Green added that he wasn’t sure how the new figures will impact the township’s revenue sharing.
According to the 2010 census, the village of Milford’s population has dipped slightly to 6,175, down from the total of 6,272 reported in 2000 but still up from the total of 5,511 reported via the 1990 census.
The 2010 census also reports that the village has a 96 percent white population (4,583), followed by 2 percent mixed-race (44), 2 percent Hispanic (73), 1 percent African-American (26), and 1 percent Asian (32).
“It’s not a surprise,” said Village Manager Arthur Shufflebarger “We didn’t expect much variation (in population levels). There’s no reason to suspect under-counting.”
As such, he added that he doesn’t expect much of a change in the village’s revenue sharing payments, saying that the village received about $60,000 in statutory revenue sharing dollars last time around and he expects about the same amount this year.
Orchard Lake’s population is at the highest point it has been in the past 20 years. According to 2010 census data, the city’s population has grown by 7 percent in the last decade to 2,375 residents, in contrast to the 2,215 that were counted in 2000. The 1990 census reported a population of 2,286.
“We’re pleased that it shows an increase and believe it’s an accurate reflection of the population,” said City Clerk Janet Green.
Mayor Bruce McIntyre said he attributes much of the population gain to the last major subdivision construction on the city’s west side along Pontiac Trail.
“We had a population gain due to the construction over the last 10 years, so a 7 percent rise would be entirely consistent,” he said. “It will be something of a high point in the city because there’s little place else left to build.”
Despite the population spike, Green said it remains to be seen if the city will benefit financially given the proposal Snyder unveiled last week to scrap the state’s statutory revenue sharing program in favor of a program instead based on how efficiently a community manages its government.
“There are many changes in how revenue sharing will be allocated so it’s hard to rely on that,” Green said.
The demographic breakdown of Orchard Lake was recorded as being 83.9 percent white, a substantial dip from the 2000 census figure of 92 percent. The black population grew from 4 percent in 2000 to 6.4 percent in 2010. The Asian population inflated the most of any group, now representing 7.4 percent of the city’s population, a 4.4 percent increase from 2000. The Hispanic population remained steady at 1 percent over the last decade.
Walled Lake’s population has also spiked over the last 20 years. The 2010 census count of 6,999 represents a 4 percent increase from 2000′s 6,713, which had grown 6.9 percent from the 6,278 residents reported following the 1990 census.
“I thought the population figure would be around 7,000 so I was only off by 1,” said Mayor William Roberts. “Early in the decade, around 2002, it was projected that we’d hit 8,500, but as the decade moved along, that projection kept decreasing.”
While the city won’t challenge the 2010 census population count, Roberts said he is leery of the census process and believes it should be adjusted because any miscalculation can cost thousands of dollars in revenue sharing payments.
“I’ve had reservations on how the census is done for 25 years,” he said. “There are holes in it and just missing one person can amount to a minimum of $10,000 over a 10 year period. That’s $1,000 each year and it adds up.”
Roberts stated that in 1995 a mid-decade census was conducted which resulted in the state reimbursing the city $60,000 for the difference in population.
Walled Lake is slowly becoming more diverse, based on 2010 census figures. White residents now make up 88.7 percent of the population, down from 95 percent in 2000. Asians still comprise over 2 percent of the population as they did in 2000. African-Americans and Hispanic people, however, are experiencing growth in the city. In 2000, Hispanics made up 2 percent of the population compared to the 3.9 percent cited in 2010′s report; and African-Americans now make up 4.4 percent vs. only 1 percent in 2000.
The population in Waterford declined by 2 percent over the past decade, according to the 2010 census report that shows a community of 71,707 residents, which is slightly smaller compared to the 73,150 tallied in 2000. The 1990 census reported a population of 66,692.
“Two percent isn’t a drastic drop,” said Waterford Township Supervisor Carl Solden. “Some communities took a huge hit, but let’s face it — it’s because of a lack of jobs, people leaving for jobs and the problems in the auto industry.”
Solden said he has no qualms with the thoroughness of the U.S. Census Bureau this time around, adding that Waterford won’t be challenging the outcome even though it could mean less money gleaned from state shared revenue.
African-Americans now make up 4.7 percent of the township population while whites comprise 89.2 percent; Asians now represent 1.6 percent of the township’s population, while Hispanics comprise 6.4 percent.
WEST BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP
The 2010 census report cites West Bloomfield Township’s population at 64,690, which is down slightly from the total of 64,860 reported in 2000, but still much higher than the total of 54,416 reported following the 1990 Census.
“I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s not a significant change,” said Township Treasurer Teri Weingarden. “I hope in part the reason is the proactive measures we’ve taken, like our Foreclosure Extravaganza.”
Weingarden added that she believes the 2010 figures are pretty accurate.
The census also reports that the township has a 77 percent white population (48,688), a drop from 84 percent reported in 2000.
The African-American population in the township has risen from 5 percent in 2000 to 11 percent (5,332) in the most recent tally of West Bloomfield residents.
The 2010 census also found the Asian-American population at 8 percent (3,930), an increase from 7.8 percent in 2000, along with a 2 percent mixed-race population (764) and 2 percent Hispanic population (710).
Weingarden said she believes the new census figures won’t have a significant impact on the township’s revenue sharing receipts.
“Where we’ve really been hit is declining property values,” she said.
WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP
White Lake Township experienced a 6.4 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2010. At the turn of the century, 28,216 residents were reported living in White Lake compared to 30,019 residents in 2010.
Clerk Terry Lilley said he was pleased with the growth.
“We thought we were right around the 30,000 mark, and we are now,” he said. “We kind of thought that’s where we were, and we were pleased to know now the projections were fairly accurate.”
He added he doesn’t believe the township was under-counted.
While Lilley said he knows the township will be receiving more money from the state, he said he’s not sure exactly how much that would be.
“We don’t know at this point. We just finished with the audit report trying to get that all straight,” he said.
However, Lilley said he believes township officials will start looking at what the increased population means in terms of revenue from the state sometime in the coming weeks.
Little has changed demographically in White Lake over the last decade. The township has a 95 percent white population. Three percent of the population is Hispanic, 1 percent is black, and 1 percent is Asian. This is slightly different from 10 years ago when 97 percent of the population was white and 2 percent was Hispanic.
Wixom’s population has tapered off compared to the boom it had in 2000, when it reported a 55 percent growth spurt. According to 2010 census data, 13,498 individuals now reside in Wixom compared to the 13,263 living there in 2000, a 2 percent increase in population. Still, the city has come a long way since 1990 when only 8,550 people resided there.
“We had highly growing areas in the early 1990s,” said City Manager Michael Dornan. “The 1.7 percent increase now is not surprising. The majority of the surrounding communities in the metro area have either decreased or increased marginally. Our population change is consistent with the rest of the region.”
Assistant City Manager Tony Nowicki said that during the last decade there has been growth in the city’s Village Center Area and some single-family home construction. The wave of the future is industrial and high-technology growth, he said.
“There’s still room for residential growth, but like the rest of the region, residential development has flat-lined some, but not nearly like in the last decade,” Dornan said. “We are experiencing continual growth in the industrial and high-tech sectors of the city.”
This year alone, 75 new businesses have set up shop in Wixom.
While the census data will not be challenged in Wixom, given the number of apartment complexes in the city it’s difficult to ascertain whether residents were counted during the 2010 census.
“I don’t know the participation rate from the apartments, but believe it’s consistent with the past,” Dornan said. “I worked in the community prior to the census to generate interest by assisting in an outreach program that approached subdivisions and apartments.”
Dornan said that in the 1990s, the city conducted a mid-term census to demonstrate significant growth.
“It was an attempt to get additional state revenue,” he said.
Nowicki said given the latest census figures and the changeover in state government, it’s too soon to tell how population will affect the city’s revenue sharing.
“With all the proposed changes going on in Lansing we don’t know how it will play out,” he said.
The city’s demographic breakdown has morphed over the years to become more diverse. Whites now make up 79.8 percent of the population compared to 90 percent in 2000. The black population has more than tripled in the last decade from 3 percent in 2000 to 11.1 percent in 2010. Asian residents have also increased marginally from 2000 figures. They now comprise 4.9 percent of the population compared to 4 percent in the 2000 census. The Hispanic population, too, has increased from 4 percent in 2000 to 5.1 percent in 2010.
The village of Wolverine Lake continues to shrink in its population. The community posted a population of 4,312 in the 2010 census, a 2 percent drop compared to 4,415 in 2000. There were 4,727 residents living in the village in the 1990s.
The demographic breakdown of the village was reported in the 2010 census report as being comparable to 2000 statistics, except for the Hispanic population that more than doubled from 1 percent in 2000 to 2.4 in 2010. Whites make up 95.9 percent of the population. Just over 1 percent of the population is Asian, while just under 1 percent of the population is black.
Wolverine Lake officials were not available for comment prior to press time.