How Michigan Can WIN and GROW its Population

January 25, 2024

Michigan’s population growth has ranked in the bottom ten for eight years in a row. Our population has decreased three of the past five years, and in fact, we were one of only 19 states to experience population decline from 2020 to 2022. This is simply unacceptable for such an amazing and beautiful state!

It’s a real crisis too, and recently, there’s been a lot of discussion about what can we do about this decline. A shrinking population leads to a shortage of talented workers, which attracts fewer businesses, which results in fewer jobs, so our children and grandchildren need to look elsewhere to live. It also means less economic activity, resulting in less tax revenue, and ultimately less opportunity for EVERYONE. It is time we take this issue seriously.

We already have proven models of success that we can follow to help us grow Michigan’s population and get people to move here – and stay here! Just look at the top 10 fastest-growing states from 2023. People choose to live where they can send their kids to good schools in safe communities and pursue good-paying opportunities with a reasonable cost of living.

Many of the top 10 fastest-growing states – places like Florida, Arizona, and Utah – support education freedom (some call it school choice) that offers students the opportunity to pursue a great education – regardless of their zip code.  Three of the top 10 states – Texas, Florida, and Tennessee – don’t have an income tax, allowing workers to keep more of their hard-earned dollars and requiring their state governments to spend less and run more efficiently. And nine of the top 10 growth states are freedom to work states, making them attractive places for businesses to create jobs and good-paying careers for workers. 

Unfortunately, instead of looking at the top 10 states for solutions, Governor Whitmer and Michigan’s Democratic-led legislature have chosen to follow the bottom 10 states:

  • Our kids are falling behind and stuck in failing schools. We need to improve K-12 education opportunities by putting students first and providing parents the right to choose the school and learning options that are best for their children. 
  • Families have less money in their pocketbooks as Michigan’s per capita personal income in 2022 was 13 percent below the national average. Our state government needs to operate more efficiently, focus on things that matter (like actually fixing our roads and not just talking about it and dealing firmly with crime) and get its spending in check – no more spending records! More spending leads to tax hikes, and increases in taxes and government bureaucracy will only accelerate our population decline – not to mention chase aways business.
  • Lansing has created an environment that is outright hostile to job creation by repealing freedom to work, raising taxes, and burdening small businesses with unfair regulations and requirements. Moving forward, we certainly need a jobs environment that encourages growth and allows businesses to focus on their business (not their government compliance reports) by serving their customers with great products and services and creating jobs and opportunities for everyone right here in Michigan!!

The West Michigan Policy Forum provided a full list of recommendations to the Governor’s Population Council (which they unfortunately ignored). I’d encourage you to read the WMPF’s full list of common sense ideas to help move Michigan in the right direction.

The bottom line is this: we know how wonderful Michigan is and what it has to offer. But if we want to compete and be a top 10 state for growth, we need to embrace individual freedom and provide families with good schools, safe communities, and the opportunity to build a great career and life here. We need to provide businesses with an ATTRACTIVE environment that encourages innovation, growth and job creation. Michigan has been on the wrong track before, but we have been able to turn her around. I am confident that with the right leadership, Michigan can get moving in the right direction once again.