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Posted on Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

Ann Arbor is 6th largest Michigan city and other Washtenaw County facts from new U.S. census data

By Paula Gardner

Detroit is shrinking to its lowest population level in a century, but how are Washtenaw County's numbers looking in the 2010 census?

The basics: We have more people, mostly due to township growth, and Ann Arbor is now the 6th largest city in Michigan.


Home construction in Washtenaw County's townships helped fuel a 6.5 percent population gain from 2000 to 2010, according to U.S. Census data.

Here are initial numbers from today's releases, including a ranking of Michigan's cities and villages:

• Ann Arbor is now the 6th largest Michigan city, trailing Detroit (still number 1), Grand Rapids (still number 2), Warren (still number 3),Sterling Heights (up from 5), Lansing (up from number 6). Flint moved into Ann Arbor's previous rank of 7th largest Michigan city — falling from number 4.

• Washtenaw County's population is 344,791 — down 2,772 from projections for the census issued in 2009. But the number is up from 322,770 in 2000.

• Ann Arbor's population dropped 0.6 percent to 113,934.

• Ypsilanti's population fell 12.6 percent, enough to move it from the 50th largest city in the state to number 56.

• Saline grew 9.6 percent, and it's now ranked number 103 in the state, up from 113.

• Dexter Village grew 70.4 percent to a population of 4,067. That's enough to move it to 170 in the rankings.

• Chelsea grew 12 percent, and now ranks at 150, up from 160.

• Township growth includes Scio (up 28 percent), Augusta (up 40.1 percent), Lima (up 33 percent), and Webster (up 30 percent).

• Decreases were shown in Freedom Township (-9.2 percent), Lyndon Township (-0.3 percent) and Northfield Township (-0.1 percent).

More data is expected to be released today, including housing data and statewide data on race. Keep an eye on this U.S. Census site for more information.



Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

regarding your comment John B. - While true that Pfizer did not employ 13,000-15,000 (I was thinking that was about 2,300, but maybe that was the 1,200 people you mention plus part-time, and support staff?). The bigger, 13,000-15,000 total as I understood it was due to all the supporting businesses (dry cleaners, catering, supplies, restaurants, etc.) particularly in the NE quadrant of Ann Arbor that were affected when those well-paid employees no longer were putting in that kind of expendable income into the economy.... Because Pfizer employees were some of the best paid in the area, not to mention the additional burden of the 18% of the City tax base that went with it, I'd say Pfizer's loss was a lot more than "emotional"....


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 2:43 a.m.

For the record, Census is reporting a population loss of .1% for 90 people. This is relative to the actual 2000 census figure of 114024 so it is apples-to-apples. It looks like you're comparing to the 2000 census estimates base of 114344, which is not quite apples-to-apples. More like apples-to-pears. I would argue it's best to compare the actual 2010 census to the actual 2000 census, rather than to the 2000 census estimates base. Please consult your local demographer for a more complete explanation.

Fat Bill

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 1:57 a.m.

With regard to the Pfizer closing, I know that quite a few of the higher salary workers lived in the surrounding cities and townships. I used to drive a school bus with 4 different Pfizer families from Saline riding...

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 1:55 a.m.

Whoops. My comment above was intended to respond to a reply under the first comment.

Tom Whitaker

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

What restrictions to new development are those, Joel? Do you really have any idea how many projects have been approved in recent years? You should look into this before you perpetuate the myth that Ann Arbor is unfriendly to development. It is far TOO friendly if you ask me. The collapse of the banking industry and the overall economy (not to mention our shrinking population and lack of jobs) is why only a portion of the many approved projects have been built in recent years. Thus all the vacant lots or boarded up buildings around town--sites of approved, but unfinanced projects. It has nothing to do with the approval rate or any mythical difficulties developers face. Projects that meet zoning criteria are approved efficiently and routinely--often to the detriment of the public good.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.

Thanks for this coverage and the comments are also good. I'd point out that the first half of the decade saw a huge housing bubble, with people from farther east in Michigan moving to cheap, large lot large houses choices at low interest rates. Ann Arbor's lack of housing had little to do with it, because people were simply looking for the best value for the money. Much of that sprawl was because of relocation from other counties (east). No matter how many dense developments we build in Ann Arbor, it will not provide cheaper large houses with big backyards for those who are looking for that kind of deal. The township tax difference helps too. My impression is that this wave was more or less halted by the collapse of the housing bubble. I guess that the census estimates that go on in shorter timeframes will help answer that.

Ann English

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:45 p.m.

When a township's population size changes enough, the number of voting precincts can be affected; you have me wondering if Dexter's population is now so large, that they'll have to become two voting precincts next year.

Matt Yankee

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

Voting precincts need to be under 3,000 registered voters. Dexter Village currently has only 2,623 registered voters: 2,311 in Scio Township and 312 in Webster Township.

Ann English

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Webster, Scio and Lima Townships border one another, with Scio and Lodi being the two middle townships of the 20-township county. What could have caused the population growth? If Scio's is mainly because of Dexter Village's huge population increase, then Scio basically grew in Voting Precept 1. I can see a reason for Augusta Township's population growth: it's right there at the southeastern corner of the county, bordering Monroe and Wayne counties, near major businesses.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

We moved out because of taxes we got a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood in livingston county that is a heck of lot less than what we had in Ann Arbor. I lived in Ann Arbor for more than 45 years. it has declined noticibly in the last 15 years from when we moved there and the people just are not as friendly. the taxes kept going up, the services got less and less. And the fact the city council is so political and focused on special interests is frustrating. We like where we are now, i can talk to the township supervisor who is a local business owner any time of day. the roads are decent and get cleaned and repaired quickly. people wave when you drive past. Totally different environment.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

Out of curiosity, what do you mean by "special interests"? Firemen and policemen? (Also FWIW, my own A2 councilmember is a local business owner.)

John B.

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

If you no longer needed the school system, then paying annually for it made less sense.... Kinda sounds like WF to me, though.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:06 p.m.

SEMCOG should use these new figures for their population growth projections, which in turn drive road capacity planning. Any idea how soon SEMCOG will correct their out of date models? I suspect I know the answer, but do the SEMCOG models look at current housing development when they project forward? Or are they assuming the housing bubble will continue in perpetuity or re-inflate? A lot of these models seem to assume growth rates that haven't been true for a while, and aren't likely to happen again anytime soon.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

While I do not have any references to site, I was under the impression that the Ann Arbor population had actually dropped notably in the last few years with Pfizer's closing from ~113,000-115,000 to around 100,000. Did Ann Arbor NOT take a measurable hit with that closing? And if so, what accounted for the rapid rebound? Can anyone say anything regarding this?

John B.

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

bah, make that 'spend' not 'spent.'

John B.

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:50 p.m.

Pfizer didn't employ that many people here - about 1200 IIRC? Even if all of them lived in A2 (and I know that they didn't - many lived outside city limits) and had 3-person familes, that would add up to about 3600 people moving away, not 13,000. The real local toll of the Pfizer closing was an emotional one, plus the average pay of those 1200 employees was about $120K/year, so they could spent a lot in the local economy....


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

If you are not busy living (growing) then you are busing dying (shrinking)

Paula Gardner

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

If anyone's curious about residential building, there's a lot of data on the SEMCOG web site. I've been pulling some of it for a story on how the building industry is faring - over time it illustrates how our local communities zoned for growth - or didn't. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Paula Gardner

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

Superior Township went up 21. 8 percent.


Sat, Mar 26, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

10,000 and change to 13,000 and change.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

Thanks a lot, Paula.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

What is the population of Ann Arbor in the summer as compared to the winter?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Paula what was the stat on Superior Township?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 8:28 p.m.

There may be a lack of low-income housing in the city limits (compared to whom, I can't say). But let's not perpetuate the myth about a lack of workforce for-sale housing—there is PLENTY available in Ann Arbor. If you want new condo construction, yes, you'll pay more in Ann Arbor than the townships. One thing I can tell you I will NOT vote to subsidize is transit routes and park and rides that encourage people to locate in Dexter and commute to Ann Arbor.

John Q

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

If that was the case, why did Ann Arbor Township see almost no population growth? It has the lowest taxes of the townships that surround Ann Arbor. Shouldn't it have seen the biggest growth? Salem Township levies no Township taxes. It's growth? About 100 people. Another simplistic answer that doesn't hold up to the facts.

Olan Owen Barnes

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Just one reason among many but tax is in the equation and in Scio Township it may also be the school system.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

John Q, I'm guessing zoning controlled growth in A2 Township.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

The reason the townships saw growth and A2's dropped: TAXES. Why pay 10-12K a year in property taxes when you can pay 1/3-1/2 of that and just drive 10 minutes into the city? We live in town and were thinking of moving across town into a larger home, but nixed it when we saw how much we'd be paying in property taxes when they were uncapped...YIKES!

Olan Owen Barnes

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

That is one reason why we live in Scio and not Ann Arbor.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

The Ann Arbor population decline is not inconsequential. The University's student body has grown over the past decade - creating an understatement of the true decline.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.

A population drop in Ann Arbor of 0.6 percent seems pretty inconsequential. In fact, I wonder how much the U of M student population living in Ann Arbor fluctuates in any given year. I don't have all the numbers but it wouldn't surprise me if that accounts for at least some of the change. Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the population of A2 is around 115,000, then we are talking about around a six or seven hundred person difference. Given the amount of people who relocate for whatever reason in a given year, I would consider our population to appear pretty static.


Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 10:24 a.m.

U of M's pop is at record levels I believe...

Paula Gardner

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

I'm waiting to see the household data - I've seen previous numbers that show the average household in Ann Arbor has fewer residents that households in other communities. A lot of the city's housing stock appeals more to people without children, while the suburban construction does. My neighborhood, for example, has seen a number of 3- and 4-bedroom homes sold to singles and couples without children.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

The truth is clear Businesses moved and took our best and brightest to other states


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

probably because our workforce isn't getting the education it needs to be competitive.

Ben Connor Barrie

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:08 p.m.

Any thoughts on why Ann Arbor saw a drop in population while the surrounding area and Washtenaw County saw increases? Lack of affordable housing in the city? We are making it too easy for people to commute into the city for work and live far away. This causes problems in terms of sprawl and pollution/fuel usage due to commuting.

Joel Batterman

Wed, Mar 23, 2011 : 12:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor's schools and quality of life make it a highly desirable place to live, while the city's restrictions on new development limit the amount of new housing that can be built here. As a result, those families that can't pay top dollar are more likely to find homes outside the city limits; those families in the city, meanwhile, see their kids move away. This is a problem, and the City leadership needs to treat it like one.

Brian Kuehn

Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

If one is going to discuss &quot;affordable&quot; housing, one should define what they consider &quot;affordable&quot;. Some people consider &quot;affordable&quot; to mean everyone, regardless of income, should be able to live in a certain municipality. Others think the price of a 2,000 square foot, 4 bedroom home is the litmus test. There are homes in Ann Arbor for under $100,000 (not condos). Certainly the housing in Ann Arbor is more than the surrounding area. But is living in Ann Arbor unaffordable?


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Don't forget this: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> It may be true that the jobs lost with the Pfizer closing were more biased towards Ann Arbor rather than the county residents.


Tue, Mar 22, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

Any thoughts on why Ann Arbor saw a drop in population while the surrounding area and Washtenaw County saw increases? Lack of affordable housing in the city? In previous counts, the number of new housing units built hasn't kept pace with the decreases in the number of persons per household. So the number of households increases, but the population is flat.