Wayne County population changes

Wayne County must plan for a future of limited and/or no population growth.

The story of Wayne County and its changing population pattern is indicative of patterns in urban counties across America. From 1900 to 1960, the county grew continuously. By 1920, Wayne County had a total population of more than one million residents (U.S. Census, SEMCOG Community Profiles). By 1940, the County had two million residents.  The County continued to grow and peaked in 1960 with a total population exceeding 2.5 million residents.

Over the next 10 years from 1960 to 1970, the population change was relatively flat and the first decline occurred between the 1970 and 1980 census. Each census count after 1970 saw a decrease in overall population, with the last decrease occurring within the last 10 years. The 2010 census documented a total population of approximately 1.8 million residents. Population projections by the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) predict no increases for the county over the next 25 years. If SEMCOG is correct, the new normal will be an aging, stagnant population pattern that will require planners and decision makers to think differently about community development.

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