When Detroit filed the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy in 2013, many speculated it might never recover. After all, the wealthiest city per capita in the United States in the 1950s had already lost many of its jobs when the auto industry relocated to the suburbs decades earlier, and its population dropped from 1.8 million at its peak to roughly 667,000 today.
The 11 counties of the Detroit Region have had a bumpy ride, too, in recent decades. NAFTA drove many of the region’s manufacturing jobs out of the country while automation eliminated others altogether. Then the Great Recession hit, and demand for new cars flatlined.