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Updated: Friday, 27 May 2011, 6:34 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 27 May 2011, 4:17 PM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - Even Newsweek is now disavowing a January report on the news magazine's own website listing Grand Rapids among "America's Dying Cities."
The site that put together the list, MainStreet, is sticking to its numbers.
MainStreet concluded Grand Rapids was dying because the share of the city population under 18 years old is shrinking. And that's true.
About 27% of the people living in Grand Rapids in 2000 were younger than 18, according to a review of Census data by 24 Hour News 8. By 2009, the year used by MainStreet, they only made up 24.8% of the population. As of the 2010 Census, the figure was 24.7%
Grand Rapids has 13% fewer people under 18 than it did in 2000, according to Census figures. The total population loss was about 5%.
But two people who study demographics told 24 Hour News 8 that looking solely at those numbers ignores other key figures.
The University of Michigan's John DeWitt noted Grand Rapids actually has an average age, 30.8, that's significantly lower than the U.S. as a whole at 37.2.
The city has a vibrant, young population, DeWitt said, and its large bulge in the 15-to-34 age group could translate to an increase in births in the next few years.
State Demographer Ken Darga said Grand Rapids has a smaller population of children because people tend to move into Grand Rapids as young adults -- and move back out to other nearby communities when they're older.
But doesn't that happen in many cities?
Darga said other less-dense cities have more suburban-style neighborhoods within city limits, which help keep families with children inside those boundaries.