Detroit's population has grown for the first time in 66 years

  • After decades of decline, Detroit registered its first population increase since 1957.

  • From July 2022 to July 2023, the Census estimated that Detroit's population grew by 1,852 residents.

  • Since taking office in 2014, Mayor Mike Duggan has taken on Detroit's long-standing blight problem.

For decades, Detroit was an international symbol of urban decay: abandoned neighborhoods, decrepit former factories, and a population exodus.

But in recent years, Detroit has turned a corner. There's been a stream of investment across the city, but especially in the city's downtown, where Art Deco buildings have been given new life as residences and modern office spaces. Detroit's restaurant scene is also now one of the most vibrant in the country. And core city services, many of which were deemed unreliable when Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July 2013, have improved.

The result? From July 2022 to July 2023, the US Census Bureau says Detroit's population grew by close to 2,000 residents, bumping the city's population to 633,218.

The 2023 estimate means that for the first time since 1957, the city grew, a monumental achievement for Detroit — which in the 1940s was one of the country's most prosperous and influential cities.

With Detroit's latest population numbers, the city also jumped from the 29th-largest to the 26th-largest city in the United States, overtaking Memphis, Louisville, and Portland.

Detroit's numbers are still far from 1950, when the city's population peaked at about 1.85 million. Back then, it was the fifth-largest city in the United States, behind only New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Detroit was heavily impacted by rapid suburbanization in the 1950s and 1960s and lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs. The 1967 Detroit riot led to an unimaginable loss of life and the destruction of hundreds of buildings, reshaping the city's destiny for generations.

White flight then fueled many of Detroit's businesses to flee the city, and later, much of the city's Black middle-class population also began to decamp for the suburbs, frustrated by the decline in services and the state of the public school system.

That Detroit would register such a population increase years after enduring some of its biggest challenges is a culmination of decades of both public and private investment in Michigan's largest city — one that continues to serve as the nexus of the American automobile industry. And it's also a reflection of the relative affordability of Detroit — which has a lower cost of living compared to the coasts — while offering a climate with less extreme weather than many of its more populous Sun Belt counterparts.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, in office since 2014, has focused on reigning in the city's blight. Abandoned homes had become the source of crime in many outer neighborhoods.

Duggan last year said that under his tenure the city had removed roughly 25,000 abandoned homes. And thousands of homes have been renovated or are slated for renovations.

"As we remove blight, more and more people are moving into the good houses," Duggan told the Associated Press. "Right now, it doesn't seem like we can build apartments fast enough."

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