Cautious excitement about statistics

Last Memorial Day Weekend my wife and I helped move our youngest granddaughter and her parents to the Detroit area from Wisconsin.

As much as we have enjoyed the Midwest cities where our son and his family have called home these past several years, helping his family locate back in Michigan was especially exciting for us grandparents. While Detroit may still be a drive, it pales next to drives to Madison or Minneapolis.

And, as statistics recently revealed, my son and his family were the new “normal” in the state.

According to a recent story in The Detroit News more people moved into Michigan in 2017 than moved out. In fact, it is the first time since 2001 that such a statistic has been realized reported the state’s demographer, Eric Guthrie.

Now I need to pause here and say that I enjoy statistics, especially ones that help to add explanation to news stories, such as the one in the previous paragraph. Thus, when I read what Guthrie had to say, I was excited. No one has to convince me, and I bet you, that we have survived some tough economic times in Michigan these past 18 years. I remember all too well the stories of Michigan’s greatest export during that time — people. Look around and evidence of it is everywhere.

Thus, to read that statistics were changing, it buoyed my spirits. In fact, when you dig deeper into the statistics you learn that actually this has been a trend for six straight years (interesting how that coincides with Rick Snyder’s governorship).

So that was the good news, and I was optimistic.

And yes, it is good. Guthrie told The Detroit News that “this year’s overall state gain was almost two times that of a year ago.”

The statistics continued, however, and revealed that despite this new growth, Michigan still lagged behind the growth occurring elsewhere. In fact, while the numbers were improving they still wouldn’t negate the reality that the way the numbers are trending, probably after the 2020 census is completed Michigan will in all likelihood lose one of its 14 congressional seats.

Ouch. Despite being the 10th largest state in the country population wise, it could — and probably would — be losing a Congressional seat within the next four years.

While that will hurt and make our clout in Congress a little less powerful, there is little we can do to avoid it from happening.

The statistics are confirming other trends in population people like me have been writing about for years now — declining birth numbers, changing family dynamics and local economic development efforts. You can’t change issues like that overnight.

As I bring this to a close this morning there is one number I want to leave you with that excites me — 10 million.

The 10 million number is important, for in 2004 the state’s population peaked at 10,055,315. Today our population is 9,962,311. The way we are trending, it won’t be too much longer before we surpass that number once again.

Oh happy day.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13.