Implications of Southeast Michigan’s 2045 Forecast

Demographic and socio-economic trends discussed in the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments’ (SEMCOG) 2045 Regional Forecast will necessitate some lifestyle changes in the greater Detroit, Michigan region. The biggest of these trends is the aging of the population and the lack of incoming young people. These trends will create a labor shortage that can impact a regional economy.

One in four people in Southeast Michigan will be over age 65 by 2045. The same will be true in Singapore except they will reach those numbers by 2030. In Singapore, the plan for aging workers is to keep them working. They’ve launched a $2.2 billion program with many initiatives, including subsidizing retraining skills and allowing an employee beyond the retirement age of 62 to work until age 67. Accommodating an older employee involves some creative solutions, e.g., part-time or flexible hours, larger font sizes, and smaller-sized deliveries that are easier for older folks to handle.

The U.S. economy will also see some shifts as industry adapts to an older population. SEMCOG’s 2045 Forecast noted increases in health care and related industries. Another not-so-obvious increase is expected in the home remodeling industry, as baby boomers choose to “age in place.” Home renovations from this age group are expected to account for nearly one-third of all remodeling dollars by 2025, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies. I was in China recently, where an article by my former college advisor went viral. It was about how she remodeled her parents’ home to help them age in place. It dealt with a range of issues, including not only removing physical barriers to increase accessibility, but also improving line-of-sight, lighting, sound, as well as designing storage and furniture details.

Speaking of aging in place, the City of Auburn Hills, Michigan, has taken a proactive approach to this concept. With input from the community, they know that many older residents enjoy city events, parks, and plan to stay in Auburn Hills as they age. To address potential barriers, the city created an Age-Friendly 2015 Action Plan. According to Mayor Kevin McDaniel, the plan “is the start of our journey to creating a city that will be ideal for residents of all ages for years to come. It will serve as a guide as we continue to commit to improving our citizens’ and visitors’ access to our community.”

While local governments are already planning for an aging community, they are also adjusting to fewer school-age students and figuring out what to do with school buildings no longer needed. In Dearborn Heights, Michigan, Berwyn Elementary School is now Berwyn Senior Recreation Center. Built in 1958, Dearborn Heights began leasing the building from the Crestwood School District in 1979. Housing 20 classrooms, a large multipurpose room, and a kitchen, the facility is now used for classes, special events, health programs, meetings, and the Wayne County Nutrition Program. The city purchased the building from the Crestwood School District in 1997 and renamed it the Berwyn Senior Recreation Center in 2015. Similar things may happen in your community, as the U.S. senior population is forecast to grow dramatically in the next 30 years (see figure below).

U.S. Senior Population, Aged 65 and Over, 2010-2045

Source: SEMCOG 2045 Forecast, 2017.

A version of this blog originally appeared as a sidebar to a longer article in the Spring 2017 issue of Semscope, SEMCOG’s quarterly magazine. 

Interested in knowing how SEMCOG’s data impacts local governments and residents in Southeast Michigan? Then, you’ll want to read Xuan’s blog posts. Other posts by Xuan Liu.

Dr. Xuan Liu is the Research Manager for Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). He oversees data analysis on demographics, socio-economics, land use, and transportation at SEMCOG. He is also specialized in modeling land use and transportation relations. He received his Ph.D. from University of Michigan.