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Census numbers aren't pretty

March 22, 2011 - Steve Murch
Tuesday wasn't the best day for the state and Northeast Michigan. We already knew Michigan had taken a hit in terms of population as the only state in the country to have a decrease. So it didn't really come as a big surprise that our region was down.

The state as a whole was down 0.4 percent; Northeast Michigan was down just a hair under 6 percent. If there is a silver lining, it's that we aren't Detroit, which took a 25 percent drop, or Flint, which fell 18 percent. Our four-county area's total population is now below 70,000 people.

Some people will say “so what.” They apparently don't get it because so many things that can come to the area in terms of financials won't occur because of our population. Also, demographics haven't been released yet, but you know that an area that is aging and is a place with a high number of retirees is going to have issues with higher unemployment. With no hope of jobs, families and younger workers who are the backbone of the economy are non-existent. That doesn't bode well either.

In addition, the state is going to lose a member of Congress. Redistricting is going to get under way in the next few weeks and battles will take place. Think back to 2000. Remember when Texas Democrats took refuge in Oklahoma over redistricting issues? I wouldn't think Michigan Dems would do it, but you never know. To the victors goes the spoils, and the Republicans are in the driver's seat with redistricting. Too much push could lead to some backlash, or taking area's for granted simply based on what happened in the most recent election could cost Republicans. Democrats need to take advantage of those if they want to regain control, especially come 2020 census time when the next redistricting would come about.

The 1st Congressional District lost 7.9 percent of its population. Only Districts 8 and 10 showed increases. District 8 is the Lansing area and 10 is the eastern portion of the Thumb into Macomb County. Take away population and try to make the district cover more area and the 1st Congressional becomes a logistics nightmare. Already an ungodly large district, getting an extra 2-4 counties depending on population could create headaches for the representative the next 10 years, regardless of who it is.

And that's the worst part of the whole census scenario: Even if Michigan recovers and the population rebounds — or even goes above and beyond 2000 — the next 10 years will be affected by this census. Even if Michigan became the third or fourth most populous state (which it won't, but for argument's sake think really big) the state suffers because its representation doesn't change, nor does the funding it could receive because those are figures are based on 2010 numbers. It would have to wait until the 2020 census.

That's why getting the economy's recovery needs to happen sooner rather than later. With so many hurdles and obstacles in front of it, the state needs as many advantages as it can capitalize on. The best and fastest way to achieve that is an improved economy and the jobs that (knock on wood) would inevitably follow.

Until that time, it's more belt tightening and penny pinching. Michigan is making copper wire with its penny pinching and stretch those pennies are far as is possible. We can stretch it into threads because threads break.


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