Detroit’s population had plunged by 25 percent over the last decade. It was dramatic testimony to the crumbling industrial base of the Midwest, black flight to the suburbs and the tenuous future of what was once a thriving metropolis.
It was the largest percentage drop in history for any American city with more than 100,000 residents, apart from the unique situation of New Orleans, where the population dropped by 29 percent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College.William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC., but still affiliated with the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan, noted that Detroit has probably dropped to 18th on the list of US cities, behind Austin TX and Charlotte NC.
Nearly a century ago, the expansion of the auto industry fueled a growth spurt that made Detroit the fourth-largest city in the country by 1920, a place it held until 1950, when the population peaked at almost two million. By 2000, Detroit had fallen to 10th place.Michigan is the only state to have lost population in the decade between 2000 and 2010.