Detroit Today: Whitmer, Benson, McMorrow discuss Michigan’s stagnant population, early voting, more

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is creating a council to address the issues that have led to Michigan’s long-running loss of residents.

Gretchen Whitmer being interviewed by WDET

Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks with WDET at the Mackinac Policy Conference on June 1, 2023.

People who attend the Mackinac Policy Conference don’t want it to just be a place for talk — they also want to make their ideas actionable.

One topic discussed this week has been Michigan’s long-running issue of losing its residents to other states. On Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the “Growing Michigan Together Council” to reverse the state’s stubborn population decline.

Listen: Some of Michigan’s highest profile politicians discuss the state’s population issues.


State Senator Mallory McMorrow represents the 8th district. She says the population slide has been an enduring problem in the state.

“We had the state demographer come before my committee in Lansing and say, ‘If every child-bearing aged woman were to get pregnant at the same time in Michigan, we still would not replace our workforce,’” says McMorrow.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she put a number of different state leaders on the population-growth council, in order to expand the state’s population.

“We won’t have fixed this in three-and-a-half years,” says Whitmer, “but this is going to lay the groundwork so that whomever comes after me can continue moving our state forward.”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the Michigan hasn’t had many issues with voting, because laws and policies have been put in place to expand and protect the vote in the state.

“It was all because of voters driving the policy and lawmakers then funding our ability to make that real,” says Benson.

Eric Lupher is the president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. He says the population has mostly been stagnating in the last 50 years.

Lupher says that’s a result of Michigan losing its young people to other states.

“Leading up to 1970, Michigan was one of the fastest-growing states in the nation,” says Lupher. “Since 1970, we really haven’t been growing in the state.”

Ani Turner is the Health, Economics and Policy Program Director at Altarum. She says some parts of the state are growing, but on a whole the state has been losing its population.

“We’re still losing people to other states. On net, international immigration is a positive but it won’t be enough to offset those other losses,” says Turner.

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