Macomb County has been swimming against the tide of a statewide trend since 2000. Michigan’s loss has been Macomb’s gain.
Flash back to 2000. Macomb County’s population was 788,149. Fast forward 16 years to present day, and it currently sits at 865,570. A growth of 77,421 people (+9.8%) may not seem notable, but this occurred during a time when Michigan was losing population. In 2000, Michigan stood at 9,938,444 residents. Today that number has dwindled to 9,883,640, a drop of 54,804 people (-0.6%) which, without Macomb County, would have been a 132,225 drop. For perspective, that would be a bigger loss than losing every resident in the entire city of Lansing or Ann Arbor.
Most recently, Macomb County is growing at a pace of about 19 people per day. Given that the average household size in the county is 2.50 people, you could leave town for a three-day weekend on a Friday and come home on a Sunday to 23 new and occupied single family homes on your street. Imagine that kind of growth for the past 16 years and suddenly Hall Road makes sense.
Why is Macomb County different?
Given such a large sample size of time and population changes, Macomb County bucking the state’s trend signifies something stronger than chance. Residents are finding something in Macomb that they aren’t finding elsewhere across Michigan. A key area to look could be Macomb’s strong economy, deep pool of talent and high quality of life.
Macomb County’s workforce is becoming better educated. From 2000-2010, the number of those with associate’s degrees climbed by 1.2%, bachelor’s degrees increased by 2.3%, graduate and professional degrees increased 1.9%, while those who did not graduate high school dropped by 4.6%.
Our workforce is gaining young professionals. From 2000-2010, those aged 10-24 accounted for 15,431 (20%) of Macomb County’s population growth. Six years later now in 2016, this age group is beginning their careers in the county.
Macomb County is affordable. The average price of a home in Macomb County is $139,500, compared to $199,600 in Oakland County. When factoring in median household income –- $53,870 in Macomb County (which is 12% higher than that of Michigan ($48,308)) – and $65,637 in Oakland shows that the cost of a home in Macomb County is 2.58 times the average annual income compared to 3.04 times in Oakland County. This doesn’t even account for property tax rates, which are much lower in Macomb.
On top of this, Macomb County is desirable. With 31 miles of coastline along Lake St. Clair, roughly 30 golf courses, orchards, blue ribbon schools and abundant retail, many are pleased to call Macomb their home. Building permits hit a rock bottom of 346 in 2009 but have since averaged 1,835 per year from 2013-2015. The number of permits for multi-family housing was the highest in 2015 it has been since the new millennium (669).
What’s driving this growth? A thirst for talent.
Macomb County is experiencing job growth in a number of high paying fields.
Largest growth by total jobs:
Top 10 growth by highest wage:
Most current openings:
What does this mean for the future?
While the county’s auto rebound has been profound, the demand for services has been equally as impactful. Hall Road and Gratiot are bursting with new retail. Lakeside Mall has anchored Hall since the 1970s, but Partridge Creek opened within the last decade and Macomb Mall has undergone 8-figures worth of enhancements. A new premium outlet mall is planned at Hall Road and I-94 to attract shoppers not just within the county, but from all across the region. Coupled with a new independent league baseball stadium and a revamped Freedom Hill, Macomb County is becoming a regional destination.
These major investments are enhancing the quality of life within the community and encouraging local upgrades. Kroger has opened new mega stores, bringing in celebrities and offering perks such as personal shopping. Emagine Theatres chose Macomb for a new state-of-the-art multiplex. New breweries and restaurants are opening up all across the county, bringing with them career opportunities, a higher quality of life and a stronger quality of place.
These are exciting times for Macomb County.
Nick Posavetz is a Senior Planner for Macomb County, often providing content for the Macomb Business & Make Macomb Your Home websites and associated social media accounts. If you have something you’d like to feature, reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.