Profile: Demographic Trends

Please note, most of these updates are for the time period of 2010-2020. Therefore, the effects of the COVID pandemic and economic recession are reflected in this report.

The 11 counties of the Detroit region have a combined population of 5.39 million people. Since 2008, this regional population has grown, but at a slower pace than the US population.

Detroit Chart of Population Growth 2019

At the national level population grew at annual rates in the range of 0.8% and 0.4% between 2010 and 2020, while the Detroit region encountered a period of population decline followed by stagnation. The regional population fell during the three years following the Great Recession. This decline in growth was gradual until hitting a sharp annual drop to -1.9% in 2010. This year was an apparent aberration as there have been no major trends of growth or decline since 2011. Rather, the Detroit region entered a period of population stagnation settling at a rate of around 0% between 2011 and 2019. In 2020, population growth decreased by –0.3% in the Detroit region, while the nation's population growth was +0.4%. This was the largest disparity in the population growth rate since 2015.

Detroit Chart of Population Change Components 2020

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, while international migration is a minor contributor. Domestic migration to the Detroit region has been negative for all years between 2010 and 2020. This trend was induced by the Great Recession in 2018 — when out-migration caused the population to decrease by 75,738 people. International migration was on the rise between 2010 and 2016 but plunged between 2016 and 2020. In 2020, domestic out-migration rose to levels not seen since 2011, with 27,294 people leaving the region. Since 2010, births have been steadily increasing by an average of 32.1% per year, while deaths have been increasing by an average of 32.3% per year. These trends explain how population growth in the Detroit region had fallen to nearly zero since 2011.

Detroit Chart of Population by County 2020

The most populous county in the Detroit region is Wayne County with 1.74 million people. However, Wayne County has declined 4% since 2010. Oakland County follows with 1.25 million people (+4.2% since 2010). 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:

Detroit Chart of Growth by Age Group 2020

The Detroit region's population has declined in several of the youth and young adult age segments from 2010 to 2020. Notably, the 15-19 age segment is declining at a rapid rate of 12.7%. In the U.S. at large, this age group fell by 4.6%. Meanwhile, the Detroit region’s 35-39 population segment declined at a pace of 6.2%. This figure contrasts sharply with the 30 to 34 group’s national growth rate of 3.6%.

Out of the entire 0-54 population, the only segments that grew in the Detroit region over this 10-year period were ages 25-29 (+22.1%), 20-24 (+4.3%), and 30-34 (+3.6%). 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 from 2010 to 2020.

In general, the Detroit region has matched the national trend of expanding elderly populations. For example, the 70 to 74 segment grew by nearly half its 2010 population in just 10 years.

Detroit Chart of Age Distibution 2020

Raw numbers demonstrate the magnitude of the Detroit region’s recent population changes. Some major population decreases from 2010 to 2020 are:

-  People aged 0 to 19: Down by 131,154

-  People aged 35 to 54: Down by 191,079

Meanwhile, the population of people aged 20 to 34 in the Detroit region increased by 97,007 individuals. The 65 to 69 population grew by 78,878 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. On a more positive note, due to the university and research base within Detroit, the region remains a magnet for 25 to 34 year old’s.