New Census Data Shows Continued Population Increase in West Michigan

Earlier today, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) released 2016 population estimates on the county level. These are the estimates used for federal funding allocations and as survey controls for the upcoming American Community Survey releases every year.

When the state estimates were released in December of 2016, we saw that the State of Michigan gained 10,585 residents from 2015 to 2016, an increase of 0.1 percent. This was due to a natural increase (births minus deaths) of 19,084 individuals outweighing a net outflow of residents due to migration, an outflow of 5,328. Now we can see how West Michigan fared as a 13-county region. 

County-level population change

From 2015 to 2016, West Michigan gained 10,622 residents, an increase of 0.7 percent. During this time, the population in Michigan’s other 70 counties fell by 37 people, a negligible percent change. In West Michigan, the 2016 population was 1,580,955, or 15.9 percent of the Michigan population. This share increased slightly from 2015, when West Michigan’s share of the total was 15.8 percent. 

DataPoints_03-23-2017_growth.JPG#asset:349This increase in population in West Michigan was due to both natural increase (which rose 7,152 over the year) as well as an inflow of migration. International and domestic migration both showed a net inflow for the region (2,258 and 1,724, respectively), adding 3,982 residents to the population. From 2010 to 2015, migration accounted for just 24.1 percent of the population change in West Michigan (with the other 75.9 percent coming from natural increase). However, from 2015 to 2016, migration accounted for 37.5 percent of population change, showing the growing importance of talent attraction to the region.


Finishing thoughts

  • Kent County continued growing at an impressive rate, adding 6,089 residents, or nearly 1 percent growth over the year. This numeric growth was the most of any county in Michigan, and this proportional growth ranked 4th.
  • Ottawa County added the second most residents in the region, adding 2,227 residents over the year, enough for 6th best in the state.
  • From 2015 to 2016, 11 of 13 counties in Michigan saw population growth (Newaygo and Oceana counties lost residents).

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