Detroit's Population in Freefall

One of the largest drops ever for a major American city
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2011 7:20 AM CDT
Detroit Census Data: City Has Lost 25% of Population Over Last Decade
A swimmer walks in the Detroit River at Belle Isle in Detroit, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010 with the city skyline behind him on a day that reached into the 90's.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

(Newser) – Detroit is not just a city in decline, it's a city in free-fall: Its population dropped 25% over the past 10 years, census data show, losing a staggering 237,500 people. The number of people in the city last year, 713,777, is the lowest since 1910; Detroit's population loss dwarfs even the 140,000 who fled New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Says one resident, "The city feels empty physically, empty of people, empty of ambition, drive."

Detroit, which peaked at nearly 2 million residents, was once the fourth-largest city in the country and may now be 18th, a demographer tells the New York Times. One major factor is the 185,393 black residents who left the city, many for nearby suburbs, over the past 10 years. But its mayor says city officials will challenge the census, which they believe overlooked tens of thousands of residents. If the city truly has less than 750,000 people, it will receive less federal and state money. (Read more Detroit stories.)

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