By the year 2040, nearly 250,000 Macomb County residents are expected to be age 65 or older. Meanwhile, the population of children age 17 and younger will see little to no growth over the next 30 years.
A Macomb County with less than 200,000 school-age children may be hard to imagine in 2012, but it is a future the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) expects and one for which Utica Community Schools and government need to prepare.
"Those of us who have lived and worked in Macomb County for a long time can 'feel' the change that the last decade has brought," writes Macomb Community College President James Jacobs in a recently released data-based analysis of the county.
"Profound shifts have been occurring rapidly and decisively, significantly impacting both the challenges to be navigated and opportunities to be leveraged for Macomb County and its future," Jacobs added.
Funded by the Kresge Foundation, MCC Institutional Research and Data Driven Research developed a comprehensive report outlining shifts in Macomb County's population, income and economy over the past decade. The results of this report were released Dec. 12 at a meeting of the county's movers and shakers.
In addition to the stark realization that Macomb County is aging fast – the number of Shelby Township residents under age 18 dropped 24.9 in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2010. The report also showed significant changes in the county's racial demographics, educational achievement and economic structure.
The bottom line was this, Macomb County's population and policies have a long ways to go to overcome the challenges presented by this "new Macomb County."
"The educational attainment of Macomb County residents needs to be raised to a higher level to improve the ability to succeed in the New Economy, increase opportunity for quality jobs and increased income levels," the report concludes. "Higher education attainment would produce significant, beneficial spillover effects by reducing many social ailments commonly tied to low education, including unemployment, poverty and broken families, among others."
In the following weeks, Patch will visit the issues raised by this report in term of of Clinton Township's changing demographics, household make-up, workforce needs, health care and education. Look for these and other stories in our New Macomb County series.