Detroit fights back against plummeting population
Detroit has lost one-fourth of its population since 2000. Mayor Dave Bing will fight the US Census Bureau's numbers, which are important in determining federal and state aid. Meanwhile, the city is working to attract new residents by concentrating services in recovering neighborhoods.
For Detroit, the past decade has been like New Orleans without Katrina. The population has plummeted. Thousands of homes stand vacant and deteriorating. And the city’s economic base – and therefore its source of municipal revenues – is very shaky.Skip to next paragraph
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The US Census Bureau reported this week that Detroit’s population has fallen by one-fourth since the last census in 2000 – down to 713,777, a drop of 238,270 residents. That’s the lowest it’s been since 1910, back when Henry Ford was cranking out Model T automobiles and the city’s population was on the upswing, headed toward 1.8 million in 1950 when the “Motor City” was thriving.
There’s more bad news in numbers: Nearly 23 percent of the city’s housing stock is vacant. The last five years have seen an estimated 57,800 home foreclosures. And the number of manufacturing jobs in Michigan has dropped by some 400,000, many of those in the automotive industry.
For his part, Mayor Dave Bing pledges to fight the census numbers.
"Personally, I don't believe the number is accurate, and I don't believe it will stand up as we go through with our challenge," he said Tuesday in response to the latest bad news for his city. “The census has a history of undercounting residents in urban cities like Detroit. We were undercounted in 2000, and the census estimate was again revised in 2007.”
It’s not just bragging rights for a city once in the top ten among US cities in terms of population but now barely in the top 20. Levels of important sources of federal and state funds are at stake as well.
“Every person that’s counted in the census brings approximately $10,000 to Detroit over the next decade for schools, roads, hospitals, and social service programs,” said Bing. “Additionally, we could lose millions in statutory revenue sharing from the state. We are in a fiscal crisis and we have to fight for every dollar. We can’t afford to let these results stand.”
Getting beyond corruption
Detroit has had a tough time politically in recent years.