Michigan loses House seat, state population declines
Michigan will lose a seat in Congress after being the only state to experience a population drop-off over the past decade, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday.
Results of the 2010 census show the number of Michigan residents fell by 0.6 percent since 2000, officials said. As a result, the state's U.S. House delegation will decrease from 15 to 14. That continues a decline since 1970, when the state had 19 representatives.
Experts say the culprit was a deep, decade-long recession that sent many residents to other states in search of jobs. The loss of a House seat will hurt Michigan's clout in Washington and also will reduce its share of funding for federal programs such as highway construction, education and health care.
"We were actually hoping to be up just a touch, so it's a slight surprise," said Curt Weiss, spokesman for the Office of Management, Budget and Technology, which led a campaign to get Michigan residents to participate in the census. "It's disappointing that the economy has hurt our growth."
Michigan's population was 9,938,444 in 2000, and a Census Bureau estimate last year put it at 9,969,727.
The state's loss of a seat will add further intrigue to the process of redrawing congressional districts, which takes place after every census. The task is handled by the state Legislature, which will be under Republican control for at least the next two years. The incoming governor, Rick Snyder, is also a Republican.
That means the GOP will have the upper hand in fashioning a district map favorable to its candidates. A likely scenario would merge two majority-Democratic seats in southeastern Michigan, forcing the incumbents to run against each other or retire.
Dropping a seat erodes Michigan's clout in Congress, a problem that may be partially offset by the presence in key positions of lawmakers such as Rep. Fred Upton, who becomes chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee next year, and Rep. Dave Camp, incoming chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
But census numbers are also used to allocate federal funds for a variety of programs, including highway construction, education and health care for the needy. Michigan's poor showing in the census will shrink its share of the pie.
"It's just been a bad decade for the industrial Midwest as a whole, and Michigan has borne the brunt of it," said William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, issued a statement today saying the release of the Census figures marks a new challenge for Michigan.
"It is my sincere hope that as the maps are being redrawn, they are done so in a way that best serves the interest of Michiganders and not the interests of political parties," he said. "In 2000 and other years, the maps have been outrageously partisan and indifferent towards what is best for the people of Michigan. I hope that Michigan’s state Legislature and all those involved with redistricting rise above the partisan fray and put the people of Michigan first."
Dingell said he looks forward to working in the next Congress to turn around Michigan’s population loss and fighting to improve Michigan’s economy. He noted the data collected by the census is used to distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds to local communities.
AnnArbor.com reporter Ryan J. Stanton contributed to this report.