Michigan: A History of the Great Lakes State

By Bruce A. Rubenstein; Lawrence E. Ziewacz | Go to book overview

Chapter 18

The Turbulent 1960s

DURING THE 1960S, MICHIGAN'S POPULAtion increased 13 percent, approximately the same as the national average for the decade. Nearly all the state's growth came from the suburbs, whose population swelled by 946,000, or 27 percent, to reach a total of 4,380,000. By 1970, 77 percent of Michigan's populace resided in metropolitan areas compared to a national total of 69 percent. Nonmetropolitan population accounted for a mere 10 percent of state growth during the decade.

Several trends can be detected by comparing census figures from 1970 with those compiled ten years earlier. First, the population in central cities declined from 2,570,000 to 2,468,000. Two major exceptions were Ann Arbor and the Lansing–East Lansing area which had growth rates well in excess of 40 percent, reflecting enrollment booms at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. A more typical story was that of Detroit which lost 159,000 residents, or 10 percent of its population, while its neighboring suburbs grew by 596,000, or 28 percent. Second, rural counties such as Clare, Roscommon, and Oscoda had growth patterns exceeding 30 percent, which led some analysts to conclude that many Michiganians were opting for a slower, less complicated style of life. If that were true, it must also be concluded that the new rural populace sought solitude near urban centers, because Iron and Gogebic counties, the most remote areas in the western upper peninsula, suffered population losses of 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Third, white population in the state declined from 91 percent to 88 percent. In the central cities the number of whites decreased by 17 percent, while nonwhite residents increased by 41 percent. Nonwhites comprised slightly less than 5 percent of suburban growth. White flight from the inner cities was a prob-

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