June 26, 2014 at 6:15 am

Census Bureau: Wayne County population falls 2.5 percent

Since 2010, population has continued to decline in the county, estimate shows

Detroit— The dramatic population decline in Wayne County continues, while suburbs are slowly growing, according to population estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nearly 64,000 residents left Wayne County from 2010 to summer 2013. Births mitigated some of the loss, but the county’s population fell 2.5 percent to 1.79 million. Suburbs gained from the loss, as populations of Macomb, Oakland and Livingston counties grew at rates similar to Wayne’s decline.

Many of those leaving are from Detroit, where the population fell to 688,701 from 951,270 in 2000. The census doesn’t say where they are going, but Macomb County’s African-American population soared 22.6 percent from 72,275 to 88,642 since 2010. The county’s overall population increased just 1.6 percent to 854,769.

“A lot more African-Americans moved into southern Macomb from Detroit when the economy tanked and that trend is just continuing,” said Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit. “They’re getting good bargains on housing in southern Macomb that they can’t find in Oakland County.”

Oakland County’s black population increased 7.3 percent to 174,719 over those three years, while its overall population rose 2.4 percent to 1.23 million.

The movement around Metro Detroit appears to be a zero-sum game: Overall, the population of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties grew by less than 1 percent.

The census also found that Michigan continues to age at a faster rate than other states.

The state’s median age increased to 39.5 years, up from 38.9 in 2010. The state is now the 10th oldest nationwide, up from 12th. The age group that grew the fastest was 65 to 74.

In Metro Detroit, Livingston is the oldest county, with a median age of 42.4 compared to 40.9 in Oakland, 40.8 in Macomb and 37.9 in Wayne.

More people died than were born in 48 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

One ray of hope: The population of those 20-34 increased, perhaps signaling that the efforts to retain college graduates may be gaining some traction, Metzger said.

jkurth@detroitnews.com