The Detroit News
May 25, 2023
Michigan residents are largely optimistic about the state’s future, according to a new statewide poll, but nearly half of the young adults and Black voters surveyed think they may leave the Great Lakes State or aren’t certain about their continued residency over the next 10 years.
The survey, conducted a few weeks ahead of the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, showed some worrisome indications about key demographics amid a push to limit or reverse the state’s population loss and recruit more skilled workers.
Among the 600 Michigan voters surveyed in May 7-10 poll, only 17% said they could see themselves living elsewhere in 10 years. But when broken down by age and racial demographics, the margins widened.
Among voters ages 18-29, about 26% thought they’d be living outside of Michigan 10 years from now and 18% from that age group said they weren’t sure. Among Black voters, 32% said they could be living outside Michigan a decade from now and 16% were unsure.
The poll was conducted by the Lansing-based polling firm Glengariff Group and commissioned by the Detroit Regional Chamber ahead of the chamber’s May 30-June 2 policy conference on Mackinac Island. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
That margin of error increases significantly when broken down by specific demographics but the differences between the general survey population and youth and Black voters are sizeable enough to demand attention to a longstanding problem in Michigan, said Glengariff Group pollster Richard Czuba.
“Both in terms of young voters and Black voters, it says they’re optimistic that they’d do well in Michigan, but they are not wedded to Michigan,” Czuba said. “There is this tremendous opportunity for policymakers in the state to nail these residents down in Michigan before they hit their 30s and settle in.
“Everyone needs to get really, really serious about what matters to these residents under 30, to keep them here,” Czuba added.
Detroit Chamber CEO Sandy Baruah noted Michigan’s population would be one of the areas of focus at next week’s conference and officials expect to release a report tracking where Michigan’s young people are moving.
The report, Baruah said, indicates college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields or with advanced degrees are “leaving the state in droves.”
“We are losing a disproportionate share of our highest potential graduates and that’s a problem,” Baruah said.
Baruah said he hopes the annual gathering of the state’s business, political and philanthropic leaders “will be the platform to start a more unified effort” toward addressing population loss.
New Census data shows the median age of a Michiganian is 40.1 years old, making Michigan the 13th oldest state in the nation. In 2000, Michigan was the nation’s 29th oldest state, according to Census data.
State Focus on Population Growing
The awareness of Michigan’s stagnant population trajectory has been growing not just among Michigan businesses searching for talent, but also among state officials who last week heard warnings about the state’s population during a biannual meeting on state tax revenue projections.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer while on the campaign trail last year said she would put together a work group focused on population concerns. Baruah said he expected Whitmer and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to focus some of their speeches at the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s population loss.