Detroit Sees Rise in White Residents After 60 Years

John Wisely, Detroit Free Press, September 29, 2010

After six decades of white flight, the percentage of white Detroiters has shot up dramatically, according to a new census survey released Tuesday.

The survey, more estimate than precise numbers, shows that the percentage of white, non-Hispanic Detroiters rose from 8.4% of the city’s population in 2008 to 13.3% last year.

Much of the rise can be pegged to younger white people–along with some empty nesters–moving to the city, even as African Americans continue to leave for the suburbs.

“What we’re seeing is a move back to the city by a younger population that sees the city as cool,” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit.

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Declines in many areas

The changes dropped Michigan from 31st to 35th among states in income, falling below neighbors Ohio and Indiana, where income also fell, though not as quickly.

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Help with food

The number of Michigan households that received food stamps or other food assistance rose to 14.5% in 2009. Hunger is showing itself even in affluent suburbs, said Gerry Brisson of Gleaners Food Bank, which supplies food pantries and soup kitchens across metro Detroit.

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The census survey also estimated demographic changes in addition to economic indicators. The data show a growing diversity in metro Detroit.

The data show that black people continued to move from Detroit to Macomb County, where the black population rose from 7.2% of in 2008 to 8% in 2009. The black population of Oakland County grew slightly, from 12.1% to 12.4%. The white population of Detroit increased from 8.4% in 2008 to 13.3% last year.

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Metzger said part of the change can be explained by black people leaving Detroit faster than white people–making white people a bigger percentage of those who stay.

But there are definitely more white people, particularly younger ones without children and empty nesters, moving into Detroit, he said.

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