After decades of painful decline, Detroit’s population grew in 2023, according to new estimates released on Thursday by the Census Bureau.

The increase — to 633,218 from 631,366 residents — was slight, lifting Detroit to slightly below levels of 2021. But the symbolism was meaningful in a city that had hollowed out, year after year, since the days when more than 1.8 million people lived there. City leaders have long promised to reverse Detroit’s long decline in residents brought on by the shrinking of the auto industry, flight to the suburbs and municipal bankruptcy.

The new census estimates showed similar, moderate population rebounds for many big cities in the Midwest and Northeast after previous pandemic-era declines.

In the Northeast, cities with populations of 50,000 or more grew by an average of 0.2 percent after declining an average of 0.3 percent in 2022. In the Midwest, cities of that size grew 0.1 percent in 2023 after declining an average of 0.2 percent the year before.

Some major cities that saw population dips in 2021 — including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago — largely returned to prepandemic trends, with increased rates of growth and smaller population declines than during the pandemic.

“We know that people moved out of bigger cities and into smaller cities during the pandemic,” said Andrew Beveridge, the president of Social Explorer, a demographic firm. “That’s abated somewhat.”


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