Detroit is troubled, but on the rise

Detroit’s population continued to decline in 2013, despite revitalization efforts within and outside the city.

But the rate of population decline has slowed significantly.

Other data indicate that economic growth in and around Detroit is strong.

While, ideally, Detroit’s population will increase in the near future, a slowed rate of decline is still good news for the city.

According to June data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit’s population has fallen under 700,000 residents. The survey shows that Detroit’s population was 698,582 in 2012, and fell nearly 10,000 residents to 688,701 by summer 2013.

With a 2010 population of 713,777, Detroit’s population decline has slowed significantly to an average of 7,500 per year since 2010, compared with 24,000 per year in the 2000s, as The Detroit News reported.

Getting people to move into Detroit is critical to revitalize the city’s neighborhoods, beyond the thriving downtown and Midtown areas.

To that end, Mayor Mike Duggan’s initiative to auction off redeemable houses in the city – buffered by a Neighbors Wanted campaign – is a good step in this direction.

Residential building permits increased almost 240 percent from 2009 to 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

Rents in the downtown area recently reached $2 per square foot, which opens developers to better financing and indicates strong growth in residential properties will continue.

Although construction jobs in the area took a nosedive from 2004 to 2010, decreasing by almost 40 percent, those jobs have rebounded over the past few years, too.

A new report from the Manhattan Institute analyzes economic data for metropolitan areas throughout the country, ranking the top and bottom 20 regions, based on economic output, personal income and jobs.

Metro Detroit – which includes Detroit, Warren, and Dearborn – made it into the top 20, at number 18.

Despite the fact that some job growth, particularly in manufacturing, slowed over the past year, this is a promising sign that the work being put into the city and surrounding areas is paying off.

Other positive indicators include a low rate of dependence on government jobs.

The area’s dependence on government jobs as part of total earnings went down almost 6 percent from 2009 to 2012.

By comparison, the average for other metropolitan areas was to add almost 5 percent of earnings in government jobs.

Once Detroit is past bankruptcy and city government jobs are more reliable, this percentage might increase.

It’s worth noting that the Monroe and Grand Rapids areas also made the top 20 list.

No Michigan metro areas – and in fact no Midwestern areas – were on the bottom 20 list.

There’s still much work to be done. But a slowed rate of decline is a good sign for Detroit’s future.

– The Detroit News