Demographer Reviews Southwest Michigan Population Trends

Economic development organizations and others are working on making southwest Michigan a more attractive place for young workers to live as they seek to increase the region’s population. On Thursday, Michigan State Demographer Eric Guthrie was in Benton Harbor to discuss population trends and demographics in the area. He tells WSJM News there is one thing that needs to be done to keep the southwest Michigan vibrant.

“When you look at population growth in the area, what we need to be concerned with, what we need to be laser-focused on, is attracting migrants because migration is going to be a major component if it’s going to be affecting population change,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie says everything from education to housing to jobs affect whether someone would want to migrate to an area from outside. If southwest Michigan doesn’t get significant migration, Guthrie says it’s looking at a decreased population.

“Van Buren County will likely cross the point where they’re seeing more deaths than births in the next few years, whereas Cass and Berrien have likely already crossed that point.”

Guthrie spoke at Lake Michigan College Thursday at the invitation of Cornerstone Alliance. That organization this year announced its new initiative to increase the region’s population by 10% in 10 years.