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Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw County sees modest population gains as Southeast Michigan recovers

By Amy Biolchini

Washtenaw County’s population has been making modest gains throughout the past two years while the exodus of residents moving out of Southeast Michigan appears to be lessening, according to the most recent data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“(Southeast Michigan is) recovering faster than the national average in terms of job growth,” said Xuan Liu, manager of data analysis for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. “The out migration has been slowed down.”

The county has seen a gain of about 5,500 people in the past two years: In July 2010, 345,350 people lived in Washtenaw County. The county’s population grew to 348,637 people by the following July, and to 350,946 by July 2012.


Washtenaw County has seen a modest rise in population according to the Census Bureau.

Jeremy Peters | Contributor

The Census Bureau reports the net rate of people moving in and out of Washtenaw County was cut in half within the past year from that of the year before -- which could partially contribute to the state of the local housing market: Fewer sellers are putting their homes up for sale.

In Michigan as a whole, 9,877,670 lived in the state as of July 2010. One year later, that figure had dropped to 9,876,801. As of July 2012, 9,883,360 lived in Michigan. Rates of migration out of the state appear to be lessening, according to the census data.

Those figures include college students, as well as an estimate of undocumented immigrants, according to the Census Bureau.

From July 2010 to July 2012, there were 7,389 births in Washtenaw County and 4,073 deaths.

In that same time frame, the net international migration in to Washtenaw County from countries outside the U.S. was 3,376 people.

However, during that time the flux of people in and out of Washtenaw County to and from other counties within the U.S. resulted in a net loss of 1,024 people.

That trend is reflective throughout the more densely populated areas of Michigan: People moving in to the region from points outside the U.S. account for positive net increases in population, while movement of people out of the regions to other American cities accounts for a decrease.

“That’s pretty consistent with what we’ve been seeing,” Liu said.

Even during the robust 1990s Southeast Michigan was seeing more people move out of the region than move into it, Liu said. At that time, immigration continued to add people to the region's population, Liu said.

During the recession that hit in 2008, Southeast Michigan lost more people than it had in years past -- but the rate of international migration changed very little, Liu said.

The international immigrants that come to Southeast Michigan have a significantly higher advanced education level than that of the local population, Liu said, and are likely moving for job opportunities or additional education.

In 2012, 37,545 of the students enrolled at the University of Michigan were U.S. residents, and additional 5,881 students were non-U.S. residents.

Employment sectors like computer programmers and jobs in the technology field - which are hot areas for employment in the county and Southeast Michigan - have the ability to attract international talent, said Amy Cell, senior vice president of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“Where there is that demand and local skill shortage, it’s a natural fit,” Cell said.

Other hot areas for employment in Southeast Michigan include engineering, skilled trade professions like welding, as well as in the full gamut of health care services.

“I think it’s an exiting time to come into southeast Michigan,” Cell said, noting that on the state’s employment website -- -- there are about 64,000 job openings in the state.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Kellie Woodhouse

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 7:57 p.m.

That looks like a picture of art fair, I wonder how many people in that photo live in the county... I think it would be really interesting to look at demographic shifts in the county, if there has been any. I originally hail from Maryland and I was surprised by Ann Arbor's apparent lack of racial diversity —at least when you're not on U-M's campus— when I moved here.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

If anyone is interested in the Excel spreadsheets of Census Bureau data I was working from, please email me and I can send them to you.

Larry Baird

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

"Those figures include college students, as well as an estimate of undocumented immigrants, according to the Census Bureau." "In 2012, 37,545 of the students enrolled at the University of Michigan were U.S. residents, and additional 5,881 students were non-U.S. residents." So for comparisions what were the 2011 enrollment numbers (US residents and non-US)? Also, since they were reported separately, are the 5,881 non-US resident students included in the official census numbers?


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

The article seems to indicate numbers (like 1024 loss) were compiled over a two year 2010-2012 period.

Larry Baird

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Thanks for the additional information. So it appears the student enrollment grew by 353 (37,545 - 37,192) US residents and 357 (5,881 - 5,524) non-US residents. So if I understand this correctly, given "the flux of people in and out of Washtenaw County....(which) resulted in a net loss of 1,024 people... ", we would have seen an additional loss of 710 (353 + 357) or a 1,734 net loss (1,024 + 710) if the universities had not increased their enrollment numbers from 2011 to 2012.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

For University of Michigan enrollment data: For Eastern Michigan University enrollment data:

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

I'm assuming by reported separately, you are meaning the way that I wrote the sentence in the article. The 5,881 students that enrolled in U-M in 2012 who are non-U.S. residents were included in the estimated figures in this data set compiled by the Census Bureau. During the official census -- the last of which occurred in 2010 -- college students are counted, including the non-US residents. In 2011, at the University of Michigan 37,192 U.S. residents enrolled as students in the fall of 2011, while 5,524 non-U.S. residents enrolled as students in the fall of 2011.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

News Flash - Ann Arbor loses another 517 residents! According to the article there was a non-birth population gain of 3376 (all foreign). 7389 births - 4073 deaths - 1024 Washtenaw residents = 2292 US added (all babies) The UM had an increase of 1538 enrolled of which 1108 were international EMU had an increase of 560 enrolled of which 33 were international Total EMU/UM added 2098 students of which 1124 intl and 974 U.S. 3376 - 1124 intl students = 2252 non-birth non-student foreign immigrants 2292 babies + 974 US students + 2252 immigrants = 5518 total counted estimated pop difference was 5596 with about 78 unaccounted for A. Ann Arbor population 2010-2012 increase was 114,944 - 113,924 = 1021 but UM added 1538 population. That means an effective loss of 517 Ann Arbor non-student residents. Hey, thanks DDA! B. 2252 new immigrants probably work at a large area employer (University of Michigan). Hey, thanks UM!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Thanks Ami. Not sure what the caution is. Please be more specific. Yes, the numbers are net figures. Nobody claims anything about internal movement. Like a black box there is input and output sampling. That is all that is required to model the (net) internal process (google black box theory). Over the last two years 100,000 transients could have passed through Ann Arbor as temporary residents. It doesn't matter to the final population tab being used. One count at the input and one at the output of a set time span is what is given - for both the article and my comment. There is no guesswork or insinuation. A. If Ann Arbor has a time census difference of 1021 population and the UM a 1538 difference, and the UM is part of the Ann Arbor U.S. census (it is), then for that time segment Ann Arbor lost 517 people (non-students). B. Maybe the UM could publish the number of foreign workers it employs to clarify this. Nothing was assumed regarding legal v illegal foreign populations.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

I would caution against making comparisons like the ones you posted in your comment. Figures on international migration and domestic migration are net figures -- meaning there could be movement within those categories that we can't understand exactly because the data set isn't specific enough. The net positive international migration figures include estimates (calculated using a formula) of undocumented individuals, as well as college students that come and go, and then those people that are moving to the county for jobs from outside the U.S.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:41 a.m.

Am I doing my math correct, in saying that 3300 of the increase was due to the birth rate exceeding the death rate? Given that, I see a net 2200 level increase in residents (influx of people moving to Ann Arbor to live) which is modest. More rapid growth than that would create sprawl. I'm not surprised to see our neighbor grow fast too - that city has had a long history of rapid growth and quick decline as it rides the volatility of manufacturing and culture barriers.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

It's not sprawl if they fit into the empty homes.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Your 2200 resident increase is in Washtenaw not in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor had a population increase of 1021 over the last two years. 1538 of the 1021 were students. Ann Arbor had a loss of 517 non-student residents.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

The gain in Michigan's population year over year was estimated to have been 6,559.  Ann Arbor accounted for 2,309 of that gain, or 35% of the statewide population gain.  A more interesting headline could have been "U.S. Census Bureau Estimates Washtenaw County Accounted for 35% of All Statewide Population Growth in 2012." There were a lot of interesting details in the article including the births, deaths and international versus domestic population immigration and out migration flows! Thanks for taking the time to outline those @Amy Biolchini!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4 p.m.

And thank you for the numerical analyses and concise commentary. You are quite the math whiz making the news far more in-depth and informative. And unlike some of us old grouches, a positive light in the community.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

@LXIX: The article states: "In Michigan as a whole, 9,877,670 lived in the state as of July 2010. One year later, that figure had dropped to 9,876,801. As of July 2012, 9,883,360 lived in Michigan. Rates of migration out of the state appear to be lessening, according to the census data." Thanks for your analysis on this and the police and fire issues! Interesting stuff which I gave a thumbs up!


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Not sure what U.S. census bureau numbers you are looking at. Over the last two years Michigan was stagnant or lost population - there was no growth. Ann Arbor gained about 1000 people, 1500 were students. Ann Arbor effectively lost 500 non-UM "residents".

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Is two year growth of 5,596 people "modest"? That's the equivalent of adding a small town in just two years. The population of Dexter was 4,067 at the 2010 census. I think the headline is misleading. A percentage growth rate (in this case 0.7%) would have been better. If you want to use an adjective in the headline, I'd actually suggest using "rapid"!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

This is excellent news on many levels: it's good for government budgets, local businesses, job growth, and getting the moribund home building industry back on it's feet.  Population growth is actually rising faster than the story indicates because the U.S. Census Bureau has revised its earlier population estimates higher by 559 people in July 2010 and 675 people higher in July 2011.   In April of 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 347,962 people resident in Washtenaw County in July 2011, up 3,171 from from the estimated population of 344,791 in July 2010.  They have now revised the July 2010 estimate to 345,350 and the July 2011 estimate to 348,637.  The yearly gain is now estimated to be 2,309, but the revision was 675 on top of that, or a total population increase of 2,984. SEMCOG's population growth estimates for our county are clearly flawed and need to be revised higher.  We are now just 1,770 people below the growth expected by 2020, when the population is expected by SEMCOG to be 352,616. At the pace of growth over the past two years (+5,596), if sustained, the county could meet SEMCOG's 2040 population projection of 384,735 by the end of 2023, 17 years early!  At the current pace of growth, the population in 2040 could rise 50,364 to 401,310. The figures are: July 2010 344,791 (original) July 2010 345,350 (new estimate) (revised higher by 559) July 2011 347,962 (original) (yearly gain of 3,171) July 2011 348,637 (new estimate) +675 (yearly gain of 3,287) July 2012 350,946 (new estimate) (yearly gain of 2,309) July 2020 352,616 (SEMCOG projection) (additional rise of 1,770) July 2040 384,735 (SEMCOG projection) (additional rise of 32,119) July 2040 401,310 (estimated population at current 2 year growth rate) For the earlier data that was revised, see: