Exported From Detroit: 65 People A Day, Says Census

March 22, 2011


If you take recent media messaging—especially that from the auto industry—at face value, Detroit has been undergoing a resurgence.

While that's easy to see in the industry, in stronger, better-rated, better-received product lines from General Motors and Ford—and the winds of change at Chrysler—it's harder to say that about the city itself. Or by Detroit's numbers, which still say that it's a dying—or, to be kind, rapidly shrinking—city.

According to final census figures just released, Detroit has lost an average of 65 people a day, over the past ten years. That's close to a quarter of a million people since 2000.

Looks can be deceiving, as it appears that the city has come back to life in some respects. At least at city center, near the Cobo Center that hosts the annual North American International Auto Show, we've in recent years noticed new condos, more people walking on sidewalks, and a more inhabited look to the area. And there's been much said about a new entrepreneurial spirit in the city. That's apparently not the case for huge swaths of the city that, as our John Voelcker pointed out months ago, "properly evokes a mix of horror, pity, and contempt."

Chrysler has brought the focus back to Detroit with its successful Super Bowl ad this year, featuring Eminem, and the show Detroit 1-8-7 has also brought the city into the spotlight, if not always a positive one. The same goes for the seemingly endless "spoiled grandeur" slideshows (like this, this, or this) of Detroit and more than a few empty high-rises, large churches, and huge schools that remind us that all is not so well in the Motor City.

Can the city that's come to symbolize the U.S. auto industry make a comeback for itself—or get people to move back? Let us know what you think.

[Detroit News]

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