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Evolution: Recruit, Develop, Improve

The story behind Michigan’s population decline: What does it mean for you?

Michigan has experienced significant demographic shifts in recent years. What does this mean for those of us seeking to fill open positions and plan for our future workforce? Let’s delve into the data and draw some conclusions.

High levels of “out-migration” and declining birth rates since the 1970s have contributed to the state’s slow growth. From 2010 to 2020, Michigan had the 46th slowest population growth rate among the 47 states that saw an increase in population during this time. Michigan was also one of 19 states that experienced a decline in population from 2020 to 2022.

It should be noted that Michigan did see some population growth from 2010 to 2020, however it was concentrated mainly in Southeast Michigan, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City. This concentration suggests that certain regions within the state may be more attractive, due to economic opportunities and quality of life. This is likely true for 30 somethings in Grand Rapids, who currently make up a larger percentage of the population here than anywhere else in the state.

Michigan’s population is also aging faster than the national average: we are the 14th oldest state in the nation. As our workforce ages, we may continue to face challenges filling positions in industries that require specialized skills and knowledge.

It is projected that Michigan’s population of prime working age adults (ages 25-54) will remain flat through 2050. However, there will likely be significant shifts in the age distribution, with the younger population (ages 0-24) decreasing 5 percent and the older population (ages 55+) increasing 14 percent. These dynamics, combined with declining labor force participation rates, may lead to labor shortages in the state.

Historically, Michigan has experienced net population loss among prime-working age adults, resulting in a loss of talent. Michigan’s demographic trends pose significant implications for employers. The slow population growth, coupled with an aging workforce and potential labor shortages, emphasizes the importance of strategic workforce planning, attracting talent from other regions, and investing in employee development and retention strategies.

All in all, the demographics aren’t changing, and we must adapt to this changing landscape to remain competitive and successful in Michigan’s evolving labor market. Stay in the loop as we discuss those strategies more in depth in our future newsletters.

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