Detroit population drops to lowest level in 100 years

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 5:17 PM

DETROIT (Reuters) - Detroit's population dropped 25 percent over the last decade to its lowest level in a century, according to U.S. Census figures released on Tuesday.

The city's population fell to 713,777 last year from 951,270 in 2000 when the last census was taken as the region suffered from a struggling automotive industry, plant closures and job losses.

In the same period, the state of Michigan's population dropped 0.6 percent to 9.88 million.

Detroit's 2010 population compares to 1.85 million people living in the "Motor City" in 1950 and was the lowest total since the 1910 Census showed a population of 285,704.

Even before news of the steep population loss, Detroit's shaky finances were a major concern in the $2.9 trillion municipal bond market, where the city's bonds are rated in the junk category. The city was cited in a recent Reuters poll as a potential candidate for rarely used municipal bankruptcy.

"The census figures clearly show how crucial it is to reinvent Michigan," Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement. "It is time for all of us to realign our expectations so that they reflect today's realities. We cannot cling to the old ways of doing business.

"We cannot successfully transition to the 'New Michigan' if young, talented workers leave our state," he added. "By the same token, Michigan will not succeed if Detroit and other major cities don't succeed."

Snyder, a Republican who took office in January, is pushing cities and other local governments in the state to cut costs and recently signed into law a controversial bill giving state-appointed emergency financial managers power to modify or end collective bargaining agreements with workers in fiscally stressed local governments.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman. Editing by Peter Bohan)