Profile: Demographic Trends

Figure 1: Population Growth, 2012-2022

Population Growth Detroit Region 2022

The 11 counties of the Detroit region have a combined population of 5.44 million people. Since 2012, the regional population has grown, but at a slower pace than the US population.

At the national level, the population grew at annual rates in the range of 0.2% and 1% between 2012 and 2022, while the Detroit region encountered a period of stagnation from 2012 to 2019. There is a noticeable increase in population growth in 2020 at both the national and regional levels. This is likely due to a break in the data with a “re-benchmark” in Census estimates for the new decade. The Detroit region saw population declines in 2021 and 2022 of 0.5% and 0.4%. During the same time, the US population has seen overall growth.

Figure 2: Population Change Components, 2012-2022

Population Change Components Detroit Region 2022

Population change is driven by four factors: births, deaths, domestic migration, and international migration. In the Detroit region, births, deaths, and domestic migration play the biggest role. Domestic migration to the Detroit region has been negative for all years between 2012 and 2022. Net out-migration was trending down from 2015 to 2018 but continued to increase through 2022. International migration was on the decline from 2016 to 2020 but has since been increasing in 2021 and 2022. Births have been decreasing since 2017 but saw an increase from 2021 to 2022. Deaths have increased overall since 2012 with a spike in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic and are about 10,000 higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2021 and 2022. These population trends explain how overall population growth in the Detroit region has stagnated since 2012.

Figure 3: Population by County, 2022

Population by County Detroit Region 2022

The most populous county in the Detroit region is Wayne County with 1.76 million people. However, Wayne County’s population has declined by 2.2% since 2012. Oakland County follows with 1.27 million people (3.7% increase since 2012). As the primary employment hubs of the Detroit region, it comes as no surprise that Wayne and Oakland counties have the most residents.

Other populous counties include:

Figure 4: % Growth by Age Group, 2012-2022

Growth by Age Group Detroit Region 2022

The Detroit region’s population has declined in several of the youth and young adult age segments from 2012 to 2022. Notably, the 15-19 age segment is declining at a rapid rate of 10.8%. In the US on average, this age segment grew by 1.6%. Meanwhile, the Detroit region’s 25-29 age segment increased at a steep pace of 13.4%. This figure outpaces the national average of 3.5%.

Out of the regional population aged 0-54, the age segments seeing increases over the 10-year period were 25-29 (13.4%), 30-34 (15.9%), and 35-39 (3.4%). Population growth is far more common in the late middle-age and elderly segments of the population. Every segment except the 85+ segment grew from 2012 to 2022. This matches with national trends as well.

Figure 5: Age Distribution, 2012-2022

Age Distribution Detroit Region 2022

Raw numbers demonstrate the magnitude of the Detroit region’s recent population changes. Some major population decreases from 2012 to 2022 are:

Meanwhile, the population of people aged 25 to 39 increased by 105,300 people. The 70-74 age segment grew by 89,700 people.

These population dynamics show that the Detroit region is aging at rates similar to the rest of the US on average. However, the youth population is decreasing at a faster pace than the rest of the nation. A positive note is that due to the university and research base in Detroit, the region remains a magnet for 25- to 39-year-olds.