If Michigan has an image problem, it was not helped by the U.S. Census Bureau last week. The federal head-counters reported that our state was the only one in the country to lose population in the last decade.
In the other 49 states, the reaction went along these lines (taken from the opening of a New York Times story, from the small town of Constantine, Mich.):
“While every other state in the nation gained population over the past decade, Michigan shrank. And yet, as word seeped across frozen towns like this one on Wednesday, almost no one seemed even mildly surprised. This was, many here said with resignation, just one last, official confirmation of Michigan’s long, grim and gloomy slide.”
“Long, grim and gloomy?” Ouch!
Still, try as we might, we can’t muster much more than a shrug at the Census numbers. Michigan will lose a seat in Congress due to this shift in population, but there will be little other practical impact.
If, as the Times reported, no one is surprised, it is because most Michigan residents have long understood the state’s challenges. Yes, the auto industry is not king any more. Yes, the state economy is not properly diversified. Yes, Michigan government is a mess.
While outsiders are taking note of Michigan’s troubles, this state’s residents have been taking action.
Reinvention was a theme of last month’s state elections, and Detroit — long the anchor for a sinking state — gave itself a fresh start with Mayor Dave Bing more than 18 months ago. Business and civic leaders have been working diligently to help Michigan to rebound economically.
So, while the Census shows where this state has been, they do not necessarily reflect where Michigan (or any state) is today. Did anyone notice that Nevada, which led the nation in population growth in the last decade, now has the highest unemployment rate?
The last 10 years were painful for Michigan. They also are over. There’s no point to dwelling on the past as long as it is not repeated.
— THE JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT