A little while ago on this blog we reported on the drastic and sustained decline in the population of the city Detroit. Between 2000 and 2010, the population dropped by a whopping 25% from 951,848 to 706,640 residents. This drop is nothing new, but is instead the continuation of a sustained trend – the population peaked all the way back in the census of 1950 when there were 1,849,568 residents. Well, there is some (relatively) good news – the decline in the population is slowing down. Last year, the population only declined by 7,137 residents, or by 1%. Whether this is the reaching of the bottom and the start of a population recovery or whether the population is simply hitting equilibrium is not clear. However, the city government will surely be searching for ways to encourage population growth, if only to get some more rate payers! As we mentioned last time, the overheads of the city government are not dropping at the same rate as the population base and the city is basically broke.
However, Detroit’s chances are not looking too flash when the state of America’s economy and demographic growth is still heading the wrong way (although the headline suggests otherwise!). For the 43rd straight month, the unemployment rate was over 8% over the entire country, while the national home ownership rate has declined to under 65% (the lowest in over a decade). Nearly 15 million people in the US claimed government food stamps last year, the biggest total ever! A further unenviable record has also been reached - there are over 46 million people living below the poverty line (15% of the population). With such dire economic news, it is not surprising that the number of births is still declining, down by 55,000 last year to 4.1 million. While this decline was the smallest since the recession began in 2008, it is still a decline. But let us hope that the bottom has been hit and that there is only one way to go from here. Now, if only Europe could start improving. Oh, and China and Japan settle down. Worrying times for Detroit, and for all of us.