Michigan’s updated census data has arrived. Here’s what you need to know. What to know about Michigan’s 2020 Census data
The United States Census Bureau released 2020 census data on September 16, providing up-to-date demographic data on residents across the country and illustrating the growth of the United States over the past 10 years. This information is used to determine many changes in financial and political policy, including the distribution of representation in the US legislature.
The country experienced a 7.4% growth in overall population between 2010 and 2020. Michigan was one of the slowest growing states, with a population growth rate of only 2%. This is an increase from 2000 to 2010, when Michigan experienced a population decline of 0.6%.
Even with the state’s population increase, the new census figures caused Michigan to lose a seat in the US Congress. In a state as politically divided as Michigan, redrawing certain areas can have a significant impact on the overall vote.
Michigan has been divided along partisan lines in recent years, making the state important in presidential elections. In 2012, Michigan’s electoral votes went to former President Barack Obama, but the state voted Republican when it elected former President Donald Trump in 2016. Electoral votes shifted back to Democratic in 2020, the President Joe Biden winning the November election.
Reynolds Farley, research professor at the Population Studies Center and professor at the Ford School of Public Policy, said Michigan’s slowing population growth was part of an ongoing trend.
“We grew about two-tenths of 1% over the decade, and only four states grew slower than the state of Michigan,” Farley said. “You can see that Michigan grew very rapidly at the start of the automotive era, and then Michigan grew very rapidly during WWII and for a decade or two after…because of manufacturing in the Michigan, but since then Michigan has grown very slowly compared to the rest of the nation.”
According to Farley, part of Michigan’s slow population growth is due to the state’s age demographics. About 25% of Michigan’s population is over the age of 60, with the average age of Michigan residents being 39.8. This is the highest average age the state has ever seen.
“There are now 47 of our 83 counties here in Michigan where deaths outnumber births,” Farley said. “That means the population is damn old. The young are gone, so there are now numerically more deaths than births in most Michigan counties. »
For counties that lean heavily toward one political party, as Washtenaw County does, redistricting — or rearranging congressional districts to reflect updated population numbers — can have a significant impact on election results. Farley said partisan divisions can cause members of the ideological minority to often feel like they don’t have meaningful representation in elections.
“One strategy (when drawing districts) is to wrap all Democrats in some district and Republicans in the other district,” Farley said. “And that means if you’re a Republican who’s in a district that’s full of Democrats, you’re not going to get a lot of votes… And then if you create districts that are 45% Democrat, 55% Republican, that’s where interesting situations arise.
The state is expected to release redistricting changes in May 2022, ahead of Michigan’s November 2022 gubernatorial election.
Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission held the first in a series of meetings on campuses across the state at the University of Michigan earlier this month. The committee discussed how to deal with communities of interest – those with particular circumstances, lifestyles or cultures – and their role in the redistricting process. The meeting also held a series of public comment sessions where community members discussed their own concerns about the redistricting process in their communities.
Greta Kruse, senior LSA and co-chair of the college chapter of the College Democrats, spoke at the committee event about the importance of remaining bipartisan in the redistricting process.
“I came to speak to the commission today because I wanted to emphasize the importance (of) partisan fairness when crafting the new regional districts,” Kruse said. “And besides, it’s not nothing to me that I feel like my vote is going nowhere.”
Five Michigan counties exceeded the nation’s population growth rate of 7.4%, including Washtenaw County, which had an 8% population growth rate, according to Farley. The county reached an official population of 372,258 in 2020.
Farley noted that much of the population increase in Washtenaw County and the city of Ann Arbor is due to the number of jobs provided by the University of Michigan.
Washtenaw County is also the most educated county in Michigan, with 95.3% of residents over age 25 holding a high school diploma or higher and 55.9% of residents over age 25 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. The percentage of Washtenaw County residents with bachelor’s degrees is significantly higher than the average percentage of Michigan residents.
In terms of race in the census, Farley said there is an increase at the national and state level in the number of people identifying with more than one race, which he expects to continue in the years to come.
Kristin Seefeldt, an associate professor at the School of Social Work, told the Michigan Daily that the pandemic had an impact on the 2020 census as well as statewide poverty levels.
Seefeldt said she believes the financial impact of the pandemic in Michigan has been mitigated due to policy changes such as stimulus checks and unemployment protection enacted at the federal and state level, although the pandemic has always influenced poverty levels in the state. A March report found that about 38% of Michigan households do not earn enough for basic necessities.
“(From the data we have so far), we actually see that all of the pandemic relief efforts have really made a difference and poverty is actually decreasing under that measure,” Seefeldt said. “So if we count those benefits, we can really see that the poverty wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We still have, you know, a poverty rate close to 10%, but these policy changes have really had a positive impact.
Daily staff reporter Shannon Stocking can be reached at [email protected].