Steve DiGioia

Identifying Five Michigan Counties Experiencing the Most Outward Migration

Identifying-Five-Michigan-Counties-Experiencing-the-Most-Outward-Migra

Discover Michigan’s changing landscapes as we investigate the five counties with the most significant population losses in the previous year.

Among the state’s dynamic demographic changes, five counties stand out for experiencing considerable shifts, prompting a closer examination of the underlying causes of movement patterns.

Each county’s transition and adaptation story is unique, ranging from economic advancements to lifestyle choices.

Join us on a journey across Michigan’s shifting population dynamics, where insights into migration trends illustrate the ever-changing fabric of communities across the state.

Ontario County

Identifying-Five-Michigan-Counties-Experiencing-the-Most-Outward-Migra
Discover Michigan’s changing landscapes as we investigate the five counties with the most significant population losses in the previous year.

Ontonagon County is located in the western Upper Peninsula, near the Lake Superior beaches. Since 2010, the population has decreased by 14.2%, to 5,816.

The mining industry, which formerly employed thousands and fueled local commerce, is profoundly embedded in the county’s history.

Nonetheless, Ontonagon County’s tax base has shrunk, and economic opportunities have grown scarce due to job losses in mining, manufacturing, and lumber.

The county is also struggling with difficulties including a huge influx of young people and a lack of recreational and educational opportunities.

Baraga County

Located in the western Upper Peninsula, Baraga County has the name of Bishop Frederic Baraga, a missionary who made significant contributions to the well-being of the local Native Americans.

The population has decreased by 7.9% from 2010, totaling 8,158.

In addition to forestry, fishing, and hunting, tourism is essential to Baraga County’s local economy.

But because the area lacks sufficient infrastructure, industry, and transportation, challenges arise.

Native Americans constitute a sizable proportion of Baraga County’s population, with the majority belonging to the autonomous Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

Gogebic County

Gogebic County, in the western Upper Peninsula as well as bordering Wisconsin, has a population of 14,380, a 12.5% decrease from 2010.

Previously, it was a major iron ore mining hub. The decline of the mining industry in the 1960s resulted in mine closures and environmental harm.

The Lac Vieux Desert Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa makes up the majority of the county’s Native American population. Unfortunately, people in this area are routinely subjected to bigotry and discrimination.

Luce County

In 2020, Luce County in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula had a population of only 5,339, making it the state’s least populous county.

This Michigan county has experienced the largest loss, dropping 19.5% since 2010.

Agriculture, forestry, and tourism are the primary economic drivers of Luce County.

However, the town has other challenges, including outdated infrastructure, restricted healthcare access, and a lack of broadband internet.

Furthermore, the county has the demographic challenge of a huge population of people aged 65 and up.

The likelihood of these old individuals leaving or dying raises demographic concerns for the area’s future, given that there has not been a comparable influx of younger people.

Isabella County

Isabella County, in the heart of the Lower Peninsula, is home to Central Michigan University and the county seat, Mount Pleasant.

The current population is 64,394, a decline of 8.4% since 2010.

The primary reason for this loss is a decline in enrollment at Carnegie Mellon University, which has experienced a 24% drop in student population since 2010.

The loss of CMU, the county’s primary employer and economic engine, has had far-reaching implications for a wide range of local businesses and services.

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