After decades of steady decline, the largest city in Michigan is celebrating an uptick in population.

New estimates released Thursday by the Census Bureau show Detroit’s population jumping from 631,366 to 633,218 last year. 

The small increase represents a breakthrough for a city that struggled to regain its footing after a mass exodus of residents and a devastating financial crisis.

New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Detroit's population increasing from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year

New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show Detroit’s population increasing from 631,366 in 2022 to 633,218 last year

The latest reading comes amid a push to reignite interest in tourism, spurred on in part by the 2024 NFL draft, which set attendance records in April (pictured)

The latest reading comes amid a push to reignite interest in tourism, spurred on in part by the 2024 NFL draft, which set attendance records in April (pictured)

Motown has seen a decades-long decline in population following an exodus of wealthier residents to the suburbs and a grueling financial crisis

Motown has seen a decades-long decline in population following an exodus of wealthier residents to the suburbs and a grueling financial crisis

The city boasted around 1.8 million residents in the 1950s, but numbers shrunk as tens of thousands of white residents fled to the suburbs, followed years later by the Black middle class.

These hardships spilled over into the 21st century as the auto industry shrunk and jobs dried up. Just over a decade ago, the city filed for federal bankruptcy protection after a years-long financial crisis.

With debts topping $18 billion, the city could no longer pay its bills and was unable to provide basic services to its residents.

This sent millions flocking elsewhere, and the city suffered an unprecedented population decline. Numbers fell to roughly 685,000 by the end of 2012.

Some local leaders have accused the Census Bureau of failing to account for growth in the city, including Mayor Mike Duggan, who hailed the latest readings as a hard-fought achievement.

‘We have known for some time that Detroit’s population has been growing, but this is the first time the US Census Bureau has confirmed it in its official estimate,’ Duggan said in a statement.

‘This day is for the Detroiters who stayed and for everyone who has put in the hard work to make Detroit a great place to live.’

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In the last decade, more than 10,000 houses have been renovated, property values have increased, and a new Jeep plant was erected, bringing thousands more jobs.

Nonprofit Visit Detroit launched a campaign that has seen promotional posters springing up in larger cities in a bid to attract people to Motown.

The city poured funds into infrastructure and building projects including the famous Michigan Central Station, which will reopen to the public this summer after more than 30 years of vacancy. 

Most recently, the NFL draft set a new attendance record when more than 775,000 fans crammed into the city’s downtown for three days in April.

Mayor Mike Duggan hailed the achievement as a hard-fought win following years of tension between the city and the Census Bureau

Mayor Mike Duggan hailed the achievement as a hard-fought win following years of tension between the city and the Census Bureau

The new estimate makes Detroit the 26th most populous city in America, up three spots from 2022

The new estimate makes Detroit the 26th most populous city in America, up three spots from 2022

Over the past decade, property values have gone up and the city has poured funding into its police department and infrastructure in a bid to repair its tarnished reputation

Over the past decade, property values have gone up and the city has poured funding into its police department and infrastructure in a bid to repair its tarnished reputation

April's NFL draft set a new attendance record when more than 775,000 fans flocked downtown over a three-day period

April’s NFL draft set a new attendance record when more than 775,000 fans flocked downtown over a three-day period

The new population estimate follows years of friction between the city and Census Bureau.

The city challenged 2020 Census readings that showed Detroit with 639,111 residents, while estimates from 2019 put the population at 670,052 residents.

In September 2022, Detroit sued the Census Bureau over estimates from 2021 that showed it lost 7,100 residents.

This came after the Census Bureau acknowledged that a higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics were undercounted than the previous decade.

Duggan swore up and down that the city’s population was on the rise during an appearance at the 2024 Detroit Policy Conference in January. 

He noted that much of the growth had been through the rehabilitation of vacant homes, not the building of new ones, which is not accounted for by the Census Bureau.

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Now, Detroit is officially on the books as the 26th most populous city in America, up three spots from 2022.

Numbers are still down from 2020, when the federal government conducted a count of residents using field workers. Since April 1, 2020, the Bureau projects the city has lost more than 6,200 people. 

'This day is for the Detroiters who stayed and for everyone who has put in the hard work to make Detroit a great place to live,' said Duggan, pictured with local leaders

‘This day is for the Detroiters who stayed and for everyone who has put in the hard work to make Detroit a great place to live,’ said Duggan, pictured with local leaders

The Motor City filed a lawsuit against the Census Bureau in 2022 over estimates showing it lost 7,100 residents since the previous year

The Motor City filed a lawsuit against the Census Bureau in 2022 over estimates showing it lost 7,100 residents since the previous year

Local leaders have breathed new life into projects like the Michigan Central Station, which will reopen to the public this summer after more than 30 years of vacancy (pictured)

Local leaders have breathed new life into projects like the Michigan Central Station, which will reopen to the public this summer after more than 30 years of vacancy (pictured)

Nevertheless, Duggan lauded the new estimate as a much-anticipated milestone.

‘This is the news we’ve been waiting for 10 years,’ the mayor told the Detroit Free Press.

‘This is the first time since 1957 that the Census Bureau has put Detroit in the category of a growing city in population, so it probably means more to our national brand than the NFL draft did.’

With Motown in the spotlight, there have been efforts to repair its reputation. 

Despite being regarded as one of the most violent cities in America, crime rates have been trending downward. The city finished 2023 with 252 homicides, the fewest recorded since 1966.

The city also saw a 16 percent drop in nonfatal shootings and a 34 percent decrease in car jackings, according to the Detroit Police Department.

Duggan touched on this in January as he touted his office’s achievements including the $10 million Shot Stoppers program, which launched last year.

Six community groups have been tasked with monitoring the number of gunshots in a particular range and comparing data year-over-year.

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‘We are taking people who are trusted most by the community and we’re paying them to intervene and prevent,’ Duggan explained at the conference. ‘There’s no question that people in this city have seen the difference.’

DailyMail.com has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment. 

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