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Detroit loses a staggering 25% of its population in a decade

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Major city loses 25% of its population
  • Detroit has lowest population since 1910 census count
  • City could lose millions in funding
  • Crime, migration and decline of auto industry are factors in losses

(CNN) -- Detroit could probably use another Eminem boost following Tuesday's news that it lost 25% of its residents from 2000 to 2010.

You may remember the catchy Chrysler ad during January's Super Bowl.

To the sounds of a jangly guitar, the rapper drives through the city's gritty streets, telling the viewer, "This is the Motor City and this is what we do."

The spot ends with "Imported From Detroit," a message that may have a new meaning, given the latest census numbers.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Detroit saw its population drop from 951,270 in 2000 to 713,777 last year -- its lowest since the 1910 census.

That tells only part of a classic rise and fall of a city that lost residents to the suburbs and the dramatic decline of the auto industry.

Buoyed by industrialization and Henry Ford and other entrepreneurs, Detroit's population skyrocketed at the dawn of the 20th century.

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Home to 285,704 people in 1900, the Michigan city enjoyed a peak of 1.85 million residents in 1950. Detroit once was the fourth-largest city in the country.

Tuesday's news was a double blow to Michigan, which learned in December it was the only state to have a cumulative population loss in the decade.

The state's population fell 0.6% -- from 9.94 million to 9.89 million -- costing the state yet another congressional district. At its peak, after the 1960 census, Michigan had 19 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The state's Capitol Hill clout has eroded, one or two seats a decade, since 1980. Now, it's down to just 14.

Detroit leaders said Tuesday the census figures were not accurate.

"I don't believe it will stand up" to the city's planned challenge, said Mayor Dave Bing, saying the census has a history of undercounting residents in large cities.

"We are in a fiscal crisis and we have to fight for every dollar," Bing said.

If another 40,000 residents are verified, Detroit would meet the 750,000 threshold for ideal federal and state funding, Bing said.

Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh told CNN affiliate WIDV the census figure is about 100,000 short.

"That's clearly less money from the state and clearly less money from the government if we fall below certain thresholds," Pugh said.

Bing told reporters he is committed to help create new jobs and reduce crime.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said "figures clearly show how crucial it is to reinvent Michigan."

"We cannot cling to the old ways of doing business," Snyder said in a statement Tuesday. "Michigan will not succeed if Detroit and other major cities don't succeed.

"Losing our best and brightest young adults to other states, or failing to rejuvenate our urban areas, are not acceptable options," Snyder continued. "Fundamental change is needed and we will achieve that by working together with relentless positive action."

The state is working to stem the losses. The Detroit Region Aerotropolis Development Corporation, for example, is hoping to tie business development to airports in the region.

And the news wasn't all bad. Suburban Monroe, Macomb and Kent counties saw population increases.

The question now is whether Detroit residents will come out swinging.

Their hockey heroes, the Red Wings, may lead the way.

Playoff tickets go on sale at noon Saturday.