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Posted on Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Ann Arbor's population tops 116,000 in new U.S. Census estimates

By Ryan J. Stanton

It's official: Ann Arbor is growing.

Tree Town's population climbed above the 116,000 mark last year — up almost 2 percent from 2010, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Census estimates suggest Ann Arbor is a popular place to live.

Ryan J. Stanton |

But perhaps that's not surprising with all the development happening here, including new downtown high-rises boasting thousands of new beds.

Ann Arbor's population sat at 113,934 as of the 2010 census, a slight decrease from the decade before. Later estimates from July 2010 put it at 114,112.

By July 1, 2011, Ann Arbor's population was estimated at 115,167. And as of July 1, 2012, the timeframe for the new estimates, it went up again to 116,121.

With an extra 2,000-plus people calling this college town home, Ann Arbor is now the fifth-largest city in Michigan, trailing only Detroit (701,475), Grand Rapids (190,411), Warren (134,141), and Sterling Heights (130,410).

Since the 2010 census, Ann Arbor has traded places with Lansing, which used to have a slightly higher population. Based on the new estimates, Ann Arbor is now bigger than the state's capital city, which has seen its estimated population tick down to 113,996.

MLive reported on Thursday the new data shows Michigan's population is growing, but a state demographer said the estimates may be of little value for identifying local population changes. MLive reported the estimates look just at changes in the housing market.

The new estimates put the state's population at 9,883,360 — up 6,559 people from 2011. Washtenaw County's gain of 2,309 last year accounted for more than a third of that.

Washtenaw County's population clocked in at 350,946, up 0.7 percent from 2011. The county gained an estimated 5,596 residents from 2010 to 2012.

The new estimates show every single municipality in Washtenaw County saw at least some increase in its population last year.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, May 27, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Nothing to get too worked-up about... by the time the next census rolls around, and a couple more economic bubbles or one sort or another burst, we'll be right back where we started, if we're lucky. Polly Anna and Rosy Scenario been hard at work here at A2.bomb, as usual. Six years before the next census is plenty of time for all the latest upturns to become overdone and collapse, as the bills come due for all the profligacy and easy money of the past few years.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

Obviously over 100,000 people like it here, not something one would guess by our commentators that are forced by some unknown force to remain in a place they abhor. If ya'll hate Ann Arbor so much, why do you stay here? Great food, good park systems, festivals galore, good education, good hospitals, amazing tech companies driving our economy, so many clubs it makes your head spin. It's not a bad place to live, IMHO. Is it perfect, no, but I am not aware of any perfect place. If you are unhappy here there are exits at the north, east south and west.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

There are many people who comment on are not from Ann Arbor. They're either from the suburbs, elsewhere in Washtenaw County, or somewhere else in SE Michigan or the country. It's something you have to live with in this day and age of online media and easy access to a computer and an internet connection. We don't know who these people are and why they feel their opinion should be of more importance than the residents of A2.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Those aren't exits, they are gateways and destination corridors...

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:25 a.m.

Fantastic news! Good to have some more taxpayers helping out with the bills. Unfortunately, a majority of both city government and UofM employees choose to not make their home here.

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

Well, since you asked, Steve. I think Ann Arbor lost some population and the entire state lost a net half million people, but still had to pay for the very same roads and lighting. If you lose enough people/consumers you can even have your water bill increased to make up the difference, because the water departments costs are basically fixed. Just ask Metro Detroit residents about that. Population loss can also cause serious problems to the long term funding of pensions and is one of the main reason's Detroit's pension system is as unfunded as it is.

Steve Bean

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Jay, do you expect new residents to subsidize the rest of us? Is there some reason to believe that new residents won't use services at a rate roughly equivalent to what they would be paying in property taxes? Is there any reason to believe that we're currently at a population level that would either require an increase in staffing of police, etc. or else result in a decreased level of service if that population increased slightly?

Ryan Munson

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:39 a.m.

The Big House is grow'n!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:39 a.m.

Ann Arbor should build more affordable and low-income housing for people who would like live the city that want work in . Open door publicly would better a upscale unwelcoming places.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:27 a.m.

dont counting 50,000 homeless in tents .

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

I am not on that one.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

Where are these 50k homeless!!? That would be quite a news story, Ryan, are you on it?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:19 a.m.

They must have started counting all the vagrants, ex cons, and other diverse citizens the city welcomes to come rob me.

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

In Detroit they sue the federal government at census time to include these people (as well as people who left the city after the last census). Not sure if we do that here.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

I will say earlier this week there was a man sitting in a school playground who waved me over and asked me how to get to downtown. He was obviously a traveler or street type, very polite, but still, new to the area if he didn't know which way was downtown. Because I live about 5 blocks from downtown. And I think he was drunk. So no down vote from me, that's population growth. He might not make the census under the bridge though.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:11 a.m.

Ann Arbor, love it or leave it? Who is forcing you to stay? I have lived in and around A2 for over 40 years, I have never been robbed, a person panhandling does not bother me anymore than a phone solicitor does (call your congressman and tell him to...paid for by Citizens for or against everything) . My taxes are lower now than they have been in a long time, particularly federal taxes (but then, I am not a senior that just had his taxes raised by a republican governor, maybe your situation is different) . Maybe a new accountant is in order?


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:01 a.m.

I don't see long term sustainability for a small city like AA unless the demographics of the center city are more diverse to include multi-generational housing and services for a broader range of the population. A small midwestern city is not going to truly thrive if it caters to primarily one dempgraphic (rich 18-22 year olds and their parents). All the student bars, boutiques and restaurants in the world aren't going to make the center city a vibrant place for residents of all ages. Students are a transient population by definition. A vibrant city has long term residents of all ages as part of the center city, and housing as well as services to support them.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

As long as the University of Michigan has a presence in Ann Arbor, those students may as well be "permanent" residents. Yes, students come and go, but the number attending UM is usually about the same year-over-year. Just as some students graduate and move away, there are just as many students right behind them entering campus. There's no reason to discount them just because they leave after college. There are "permanent" residents in Ann Arbor that get up and leave every year. But they are also followed in by newcomers seeking for a new town to live in. Everybody counts.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

A lot of those are UM students and employees. Both numbers fluctuate year to year. "MLive reported on Thursday the new data shows Michigan's population is growing, but a state demographer said the estimates may be of little value for identifying local population changes. MLive reported the estimates look just at changes in the housing market." I agree with the state demographer. These estimates are of little value. There is no huge influx and no huge decline. Small increases and small decreases don't mean much overall. It' is a transient community with a lot of people coming for a few years and then moving on.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

Ryan or anyone else for that matter! Help me understand. I would think that the student population would not count, unless they applied for a Michigan drivers license, voters registration, etc. Many of the students come from out of state and/or out of the country. They get their degree and then leave A2. Is the UM student population factored into this? Thanks!

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

It just worked for me from both my phone and my computer


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Ryan - Thanks, but your URL is broken. Nothing came back! (see below) Your search - - did not match any documents.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Students count, but they're hard to count. Here's a story we had on that during the 2010 census:


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

Excellent news! Maybe one day A2 will be the 3rd of 4th largest city in Michigan!


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.



Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Maybe we can line the sidewalks with stones painted white?

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

In case anyone is curious, the data I saw earlier today showed for Washtenaw County there were 2,044 deaths and 3,617 births between 2011 and 2012.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

There were actually births? That seems to defy the biology of a current trend...but that's a topic for another day.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

Not hard to tell from the traffic, didn't need a study to convince me.

Bryan Ellinger

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

Time to dust off your bicycle. :-)

craig stolefield

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:31 p.m.

OOPs! A2 has a great quality of life!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:34 a.m.

great quality only if can offer it ;)

craig stolefield

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

This is great news. The student population is basically flat so new people are moving here and it is easy to see why. A2 had a great quality of life and good jobs. With all the hiring going on downtown with tech companies growing, the UM growing the medical center and some of the people who can work from anywhere, maybe moving here, it portends a bright future for A2!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:31 a.m.

yes if your qualified for those jobs.

Steve Bean

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:47 a.m.

@Ryan, I don't know if we'll end the use of money in my lifetime, but it's doable and simple, (but maybe not easy), and others—Jacques Fresco (The Venus Project/resource-based economy), Peter Joseph (The Zeitgeist Movement), and Charles Eisenstein (Sacred Economy)—are promoting different takes on it. I independently realized the feasibility (and sanity) of it a couple years back while studying Derek Jensen's work and started writing a book about it last year that I might actually finish someday. :-) My perspective is influenced by Byron Katie's and Daniel Quinn's writings and is more reality acknowledging than conceptual or prescriptive.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

@Steve — Thanks for chiming in. I would agree we're not on a sustainable path and we probably won't be able to continue living the way we're living in future decades. But the end of money? Do you really believe that? @Brad — I enjoyed living downtown when I did, and it has been nice seeing the downtown become more and more lively even in the last couple years; I was living in a house on Division Street when Zaragon West opened around the corner at Thompson and William last summer. Other new apartments came online right around the same time (some better products than others). Even though these were mostly students in their 20s, and I'm a working adult in his 30s, it was nice just to have the extra activity, and it helps great downtown merchants like babo market, for example, expand their customer base and thrive and be able to spin off new ventures like Sava is doing now with a new restaurant and bar on Washington Street. Zaragon West made an already safe neighborhood feel just a little bit safer at night with the extra eyes and ears, and it's not a bad-looking building. And those 200 tenants created demand for a cool little pizza shop at ground level that I like a lot (granted, we definitely don't need more pizza shops at this point now). But 5K more people downtown? I don't think we'll see that happen quickly, but it will happen eventually over time, and I have faith that the amenities those residents will come to expect will follow.

Steve Bean

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Thanks for replying, craig. Ryan, my take agrees with that of Nicole Foss (, which is that world finance will drive things for the next 5 years or so. The deflationary trend in Europe and in commodities (oil, gas, precious metals, and others) will expand to stocks and back to real estate when the credit bubble bursts. (The market very likely topped yesterday, coincidentally.) The depression that follows will lead to lower birth rates as in past ones. World population will top sooner than most estimates, probably closer to 2030 (maybe before then) than 2050. While prices will fall dramatically, affordability will as well, so household size will increase as the kids and grandma and grandpa move (back) in. That will drive demographics (population shifts) along with employment opportunities, which will be declining. Ann Arbor could be one of the few places that isn't hit as hard, but we'll definitely feel it. I doubt that any more new buildings will be finished downtown after those that are already underway or close to it, simply because the financing won't make sense anymore, not even for speculators. Looking out beyond 5 years we start to get into net-energy-cliff territory, which will lead to even greater societal changes. (My preference being that we end the use of money and the corresponding concept of exchange.) Sprawl is already post peak and I expect it will end entirely in a decade or less. Detroit will likely continue on its urban ag path with more people moving there than here.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

@Ryan - how do you think you'd like it if the downtown population (maybe 5-6K?) doubled? I'm sure you spend more time there than I do so I'm interested in your take.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

It seems more and more people are going to demand living in Ann Arbor as the job base here continues to grow, which I suspect will further increase property values as demand already outweighs a very limited supply. And because the supply of single-family homes especially is going to remain relatively flat (we're about built out), the city will have to build up to accommodate this growing demand (or accept sprawl). People who own homes in Ann Arbor already should feel lucky. University of Michigan economists George Fulton and Donald Grimes are scary good at making economic forecasts for our area. Since 1986, they have been forecasting local job growth with an annual average error of 0.7 percent. Lizzy Alfs did a great job of reporting on the forecast they released in March, which predicts the county will add 12,961 new jobs from 2013 to 2015. That's in addition to the 11,978 jobs added from 2010 to 2012. The economists predict there will be new jobs added across most major sectors, with high-wage industries ($62K+) leading the way. So, how will we accommodate these thousands of new well-paid working professionals arriving in our community? The market will dictate that to a large extent, but I suspect we'll see Ann Arbor continue to grow and go vertical in the downtown, and more people giving up cars and embracing the walkable/bikeable lifestyle that Ann Arbor has to offer. It's possible we've seen the last of the viable student housing projects, and so the next gold rush for developers might be workforce housing. Or something else entirely might happen. We could see all kinds of sprawl in the townships and have thousands more people driving into Ann Arbor and clogging up city streets. Or maybe the economists are all wrong and our population and job base will remain flat. Steve, I'm curious your take on all this.

craig stolefield

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Good question! The growth of the worlds pop is out of control and not good. I can't do much about that other than limit my family size. But, if the pop is going up I would much prefer to see the people live in cities where there is already infrastructure, transit, etc. I also see A2 as being more on the path to sustainability than other cities despite the "freeze it in amber" crowd so this city can probably handle it better than most. There are a lot of older, "don't change a thing, no new buildings, bike lanes, transit, etc." thinkers in A2 and we need some new, younger blood. I understand people are now moving back in, slowly to Detroit, this is great news.

Steve Bean

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

craig, why do you think that more people would be better?


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

Let's see subtracted 90,000 U of M students (or so it seems sometimes) and that leaves roughly 30,000 full time residents, yeah that sounds about right! (LOL)


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

And as the population in Ann Arbor grows slightly, the AAPS population is stagnant or shrinking. SO glad we built that extra high school, and keep all those schools that are under-enrolled open!


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

This will be a trend as more couples have less kids. It's a national (cultural) issue.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

So do we think an increasing population will make our city better, worse or no different?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

*just the other day

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

It's a good question. I voted it up! I think a growing population is a sign of a healthy city, but unbridled growth and managed growth are two separate things. Managed growth would be fine. The question then becomes — is the growth we're seeing already well managed? Do we have the zoning tools in place to make sure continued growth meets community expectations? Answers will vary depending on who you ask, but there was a good discussion on this subject the other just day on another story of mine:

Anthony Clark

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

At the time of my comment, 2 people had voted Brad's comment down. I just don't understand why anyone would vote it down. He's just asking a question. What? He shouldn't be allowed to ask a question or solicit opinions?


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

popular place or trendy place to live?whatever the answer it's certainly expensive.

Bob W

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Welcome to A2 whoever you are. ;o)


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

The problem is that 20% of them don't pay taxes; the 80% of us carry the load. True, the 20% pay Sales Tax, but that goes to the state.


Fri, May 24, 2013 : 11:04 a.m.

So much little time. So much hatred based on so much misinformation...we could use someone to come along and tell us to love our neighbors, but He would be cast out as a collectivist or commie or hippy.

Jay Thomas

Fri, May 24, 2013 : 9:13 a.m.

Well, half of all Americans pay no federal income taxes. Sounds like the state is doing better than the federal government.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

Does this figure that you completely made up include children? Kids these days, I swear! A responsible 8 year old should be paying taxes on that tree fort they made in that back yard or that Barbie Dream Home.

craig stolefield

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

Renters pay more property taxes than homeowners. Homeowners are taxed at a lower rate than commercial or rental property.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

Well! Yins got me! I accept Ryan's guesstimate of ten percent. Just call them the ten per centers. I wish the city's legal eagles could figure out a way to get some monetary support out of the university.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

How do you figure that? Everyone who lives in Ann Arbor lives in university housing, a rental property or an individually owned property. The small proportion of housing that is exempt from property taxes, university student housing, only accommodates 12,652 students; the rest of UofM students (approx. 30,000) pay city property taxes indirectly through their landlords. Few UofM students send their children to Ann Arbor Public Schools, which is by far the largest portion of the local property tax bill. Rental properties are taxed at a higher millage, because they are not eligible for the principal residence exemption. Those students who live in rental properties pay a higher tax rate to the public school district, even though they are unlikely to use the public schools. So I don't see how the city is being short-changed.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor depends on UM students.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

How do you come up with the 20% figure? If you're talking about renters, their rent covers the property taxes their landlords pay. Or if you're talking about U-M students who live in dorms, I think there are less than 12,000 student housing beds on campus — even if every single one of them were counted as an Ann Arbor resident in the census (that seems unlikely to me) that's still only about 10% of 116,000.