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At Last, Detroit Sees Population Grow, New Estimates Show

After decades of painful decline, Detroit’s population grew in 2023, according to new estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The increase – from 633,218 residents to 631,366 residents – was slight, lifting Detroit slightly below 2021 levels. But the symbolism was significant in a city that had emptied out, year after year, since the when more than 1.8 million people lived there. City leaders have long promised to reverse the long decline in Detroit’s population caused by the decline of the auto industry, flight to the suburbs and municipal bankruptcy.

New census estimates showed similar, moderate population rebounds for many large Midwest and Northeast cities after previous pandemic-era declines.

In the Northeast, cities with populations of 50,000 or more grew by an average of 0.2 percent after an average decline of 0.3 percent in 2022. In the Midwest, cities of this size grew by 0.1 percent in 2023 after an average decline of 0.2 percent over the year. Before.

Some major cities that saw population declines in 2021 – including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – have largely returned to pre-pandemic trends, with higher growth rates and smaller population declines than during the pandemic.

“We know that people have moved from big cities to smaller towns during the pandemic,” said Andrew Beveridge, president of Social Explorer, a demographics company. “It has diminished somewhat.”

Robust growth in Southern and Sun Belt cities continued in 2023, with growth averaging 1% in Southern cities.

“Thirteen of the 15 fastest-growing cities were in the South, including eight in Texas alone,” Crystal Delbé, a statistician in the Census Bureau’s population division, said in a statement.

The 15 largest cities in 2023 remained the same as in 2022, although some moved up or down on the list: Jacksonville, Florida, climbed higher than Austin, Texas; and Fort Worth, Texas, became larger than San Jose, California.

Mid-sized cities, with populations between 10,000 and 50,000, experienced growth in all regions except the Northeast.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said his city’s new population estimate was the first time since 1957 that the Census Bureau did not find the city had lost population. According to census estimates, Detroit is now the 26th most populous city in the country, up from 29th in 2022. Decades ago, the city was the fourth most populous city in the country.

The administration of Mr. Duggan, who was elected mayor in 2013 and is serving his third term, has in the past raised questions about the Census Bureau’s population figures in Detroit, saying the city’s residents were under -counted. For Mr. Duggan, the new population estimate responds to an election promise he made before his first term to revive the city’s growth.

“I have always said it: a mayor must be judged by whether the population increases or decreases,” he said in an interview. “It took me longer than I hoped to get there.”

Mr. Duggan said that while Detroit still faces the same challenges — like declining demand for office space — as many big cities, population growth is the result of years of constant, difficult work.

Over the past decade, more than 10,000 homes have been renovated, property values ​​have increased, and a new auto plant intended to produce Jeeps has been built in the city.

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