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Detroit leaders finding solutions to declining population

Detroit leaders finding solutions to declining population
Detroit leaders finding solutions to declining population 02:34

CBS DETROIT) – This year's Detroit Policy Conference tackled possible ways to address the state's declining population as the U.S. Census Bureau estimates over 43,000 people left Michigan from 2020 to 2022.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Rakolta Jr. oversaw the governor's coalition "Growing Michigan Together Council," tasked with addressing Michigan's shrinking population.

"By 2050, we'll be lucky to be the same size state as we are today, and there's just enormous implications as a result of that the tax base can't grow, our federal influence will wane," Rakolta said.

Andres Gutierrez/CBS Detroit

He says young people are leaving the state in droves to find high-paying jobs.

"And the unfortunate reality is, we're trading, and we're competing against one another," Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said.

The council made a set of recommendations to attract young talent, including making communities with more housing and better infrastructure. 

"We're the only major metropolitan region in the country that doesn't have a mass transit system, and we need one," Oakland County Executive David Coulter said. 

Then there's improving the education system. 

"For 20 years, we have been underfunding our public school system. And it shows. And so each of us has to contribute. Each of us has to show up at the election at the ballot box and say, yes, our children are important. Yes, because it will populate Michigan. But yes, our children are important across the state. We each need to give more, and then we will see middle-class education outcomes because we have funded a middle class," Angelique Power, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation.

And it'll take some cohesion at all levels of government and business to reverse the current brain drain.

"We have very hardworking people. We have the desire to do that. Now we need the drive," Rakolta said.

The council found that Michigan ranks 49th out of 50 states in terms of population growth and that by 2050, Michigan's population is expected to fall every year.

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