The Motor City’s engine is dying. Detroit’s population shrank by more than 25% in the last decade, according to Census statistics reported in the New York Times. The city’s population fell to 713,777 in 2010, a drop of almost 240,000 residents. That’s 100,000 more than Katrina-ravaged New Orleans lost.
Detroit was obviously hit hard by the long-standing problems at the Big Three automakers and a general shift in the manufacturing base. But isn’t the city making a comeback, as Chrysler’s Eminem commercial would like you to believe?
It’s true, industry is not dead in the Motor City. General Motors is profitable again and Chrysler’s operations are improving. But as Daniel Gross points out in the accompanying clip, no matter how strong the auto recovery proves to be, jobs will never be as plentiful. In a cruel irony for citizens, Detroit has become too efficient for its own population.
The question is what to do with what’s left of Detroit.
One answer: Tear it down. “With more than 20 percent of the lots in the 139-square-mile city vacant, the mayor is in the midst of a program to demolish 10,000 empty residential buildings. But for many, the city already seems hollowed out,” the NYT reports.
Detroit is not the only place dealing with an oversupply of housing. The Census Bureau also shows that 18% of all Florida homes — more than 1.6 million properties — are vacant.
Beyond tearing down homes, Detroit might be better-served by attracting immigrants with the inticement of cheap housing and the chance at a better life.
What do you think? Is immigration the way to stop Detroit from shrinking?