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Census: Minority population grows in Oakland, Macomb

Christine MacDonald
The Detroit News
  • The median age in Michigan is 39.7 compared to the national median age of 37.7.
  • Macomb County’s black population was 11.2 percent in 2015, up from 8.6 percent in 2010.
  • Oakland County saw gains in Asians, to 6.9 percent, and Hispanics, 3.9 percent, in 2015.
  • Whites showed decreases in Macomb, by 2,751, in Oakland, by 1,934 and in Wayne, by 4,913.

Suburban Oakland and Macomb counties continued to see growth in minority populations last year, according to U.S. Census population estimates released Thursday.

Macomb County’s black population was 11.2 percent in 2015, a gain of 3,624 residents, reflecting the continued movement of black Detroiters to the suburbs, experts say. In 2010, blacks made up 8.6 percent of the county’s residents.

The county’s gains were smaller than in previous years, experts say primarily because Detroit is stemming its population losses and there is less affordable housing in the suburbs as the real estate market recovers.

“African-American movement out of Wayne continues — primarily to Macomb — but the numbers have slowed,” Kurt Metzger, a demographer and director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit, said.

Detroit’s population was 677,116 as of last summer, a loss of 3,107 residents from the previous year. It was the smallest decline in decades, but it was enough to drop the city to 21st in the nation, surpassed by Seattle, Denver and El Paso, Texas.

Oakland County saw a small decrease in blacks but gains in Asian and Hispanics last year, according to the census report. Asians make up 6.9 percent of Oakland County residents, a gain of 2,745, and Hispanics are 3.9 percent of the population, a gain of 1,193.

“That sort of matches what we know about Michigan,” said state Demographer Eric Guthrie, citing similar gains in Asians and Hispanics.

Guthrie said the top two home countries of foreign-born residents are Mexico and India, which would fall under the Hispanic and Asian categories in the census data.

In Michigan last year, blacks made up 14 percent of the population, a loss of 2,188 from 2014; Hispanics made up 4.9 percent, a gain of 9,085, and Asians were 3 percent, a gain of 11,016.

Livingston saw gains in blacks, Hispanics and Asians last year but their numbers are much smaller than in the other Metro Detroit counties. Livingston saw a gain of 70 blacks, 166 Hispanics and 61 Asians, according to the estimates.

Whites are on the decrease in Macomb, a loss of 2,751, Oakland, a decrease of 1,934 and Wayne, a drop of 4,913.

Macomb County has formed a group called One Macomb aimed at making the county more inclusive, offering everything from diversity summits to adding signs in other languages.

“I think it’s a multitude of reasons that people are moving to Macomb ... public safety, public eduction, affordable housing ... a lower tax rate,” County Executive Mark Hackel said.

The effort to welcome new residents is important, said Ruthie Stevenson, past president of the Macomb County Branch of the NAACP.

“Macomb County has become a large multicultural county,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know how to deal with that. You have to deal with what you don’t know. We have to get past our biases.”

Data released Thursday also shows Michigan is an aging state where the median age is 39.7 years compared to the national median age of 37.8 years. In 2010, Michigan’s median age was 38.9 years, according to the census.

Two Michigan counties ranked in the top five nationally with the oldest median age. Alcona, on the state’s northeast side, was the fourth oldest with a median age of 57.9 years and Ontonagon, in the Upper Peninsula, was fifth at 57.3 years.

An increasing number of counties with median ages above 50 years their viabilities into question going forward, Metzger said.

“When half your population is over 50 years of age, the demographic (continued population loss) and economic (limited business opportunities) are in doubt,” the director emeritus said.

cmacdonald@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2396