These Are Five Michigan Counties Where People Have Moved Away the Most in the Past Year


Discover Michigan’s shifting landscapes as we explore the five counties with the most substantial population departures in the last year. Among the state’s dynamic demographic changes, seven counties stand out for suffering significant departures, necessitating a closer look at the underlying causes of movement patterns.

From economic developments to lifestyle choices, each county has its own story of transition and adaptation.

Join us on this tour across Michigan’s changing population dynamics, where insights on migration trends illuminate the ever-changing fabric of communities across the state.

1. Baraga County

The western Upper Peninsula is home to Baraga County, named for the missionary Bishop Frederic Baraga, who did great good among the local Native Americans. Since 2010, the population has declined by 7.9% to 8,158.

Tourism, along with fishing, hunting, and forestry, is critical to the local economy of Baraga County. However, problems occur because the region lacks adequate industry, transportation, and infrastructure.

Native Americans account up a sizable proportion of the Baraga County population, with the majority belonging to the autonomous Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.

2. Luce County

Luce County, in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula, has only 5,339 residents as of 2020, making it the state’s least populous county. This Michigan county has had the biggest drop, down 19.5% from 2010.

Agriculture, forestry, and tourism are the primary economic drivers of Luce County. However, the neighborhood has other challenges, including antiquated infrastructure, limited healthcare access, and a lack of broadband internet.

Additionally, the county has the demographic challenge of a huge population of people aged 65 and up. The possibility of these older residents leaving or dying creates demographic concerns about the area’s future because there hasn’t been an equal influx of younger generations.

3. Gogebic County

Gogebic County, located in the western Upper Peninsula and bordering Wisconsin, has a population of 14,380, a 12.5% decline from 2010.

It was once a thriving center for iron ore mining. Mines were abandoned, and the environment suffered as a result of the industry’s decline in the 1960s.

The county also has a sizable Native American population, the majority of whom are members of the Lac Vieux Desert Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. Unfortunately, these county residents regularly encounter intolerance and exclusion.

4. Isabella County

Isabella County, located in the middle of the Lower Peninsula, is home to Central Michigan University and Mount Pleasant, its county seat.

With a current population of 64,394, it has declined by 8.4 percent since 2010. The primary source of this loss is a decrease in enrollment at Carnegie Mellon University, which has experienced a 24% drop in student numbers since 2010.

The failure of CMU, the county’s primary employer and economic engine, has had far-reaching effects on a wide range of local businesses and services.

5. Ontario County

Ontonagon County is located in the western portion of the Upper Peninsula, along the beaches of Lake Superior. The population has declined by 14.2% since 2010 and presently stands at 5,816.

The mining industry, which formerly employed thousands and fueled local commerce, is profoundly embedded in the county’s history.

Nonetheless, Ontonagon County’s tax base has shrunk and economic opportunities have narrowed as a result of job losses in mining, manufacturing, and lumber. The county is also struggling with difficulties such as a large exodus of young people and a lack of recreational and educational opportunities.

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The changing populations of Michigan’s counties show both complicated problems and exciting chances. From the western Upper Peninsula to the middle of the Lower Peninsula, each county has its own set of economic, social, and demographic problems that affect how people move around. As we come to the end of this exploration, it’s clear that these problems need custom answers that help Michigan’s diverse communities grow and stay strong.

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