Michigan ranks second-last in U.S. population growth. Fmr. Ambassador John Rakolta, Jr. explains why.

Michigan’s population is at a crossroads. Ranked 49th out of 50 states in terms of population growth, Michigan has been struggling to attract new people and retain its residents, and the implications for the state’s economy and prosperity could be dire. According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 43,000 people moved out of Michigan between 2020-2022. 

At the 2024 Detroit Policy Conference, business leaders and policymakers convened to tackle Michigan’s shrinking population and discuss potential solutions. Former Ambassador John Rakolta Jr. and Shirley Stancato, Wayne State University Board of Governors Member, served as chairs of the conference, which hosted conversations around the future workforce, education, creating vibrant communities, and the city of Detroit’s efforts to attract new residents.  

One Detroit contributor Nolan Finley, who is also editorial page editor of the Detroit News, sat down with Rakolta, co-chairman of the Growing Michigan Together Council, at this year’s Detroit Policy Conference to talk about where Michigan stands when it comes to growing its population.

They discuss the four drivers of growing the state’s population. According to Rakolta, growing Michigan’s population in the short term seems unlikely, but the state should still focus on increasing productivity and prosperity. One way to do so is by investing more in the educational quotient of the entire state and unifying labor and management in the workforce to increase the state’s readiness for embracing innovation, Rakolta said. He also talks about what it would take to implement these improvements.

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