Kent County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of 2005 census estimates, the population was 596,666. The county seat is Grand Rapids. It is named for New York jurist and legal scholar James Kent, who represented Michigan Territory in its dispute with Ohio over the Toledo Strip.
The Grand River, the largest in Michigan, runs through the county. On its west bank are burial mounds, remnants of the Hopewell Indians who once lived there. The valley of the river served as an important center for the fur trade in the early 1800s. In 1831, it was set off from Mackinac County. In 1838, Grand Rapids incorporated as the county's first village. By the end of the century, stimulated by the construction of several sawmills, the area was a significant center for agriculture, logging, and manufacturing furniture.
Kent County is an economic and manufacturing center of West Michigan, with the Steelcase corporation based in the county. The county is often considered a traditional stronghold for the Republican Party, with a substantial conservative population, but this is becoming less and less the case.
As of the census of 2000, there were 574,335 people, 212,890 households, and 144,126 families residing in the county. The population density was 259/km² (671/mi²). There were 224,000 housing units at an average density of 101/km² (262/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 83.13% White, 8.93% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 1.86% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.34% from other races, and 2.16% from two or more races. 7.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 90.0% spoke English and 6.0% Spanish as their first language.
There were 212,890 households out of which 35.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.30% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.30% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the county the population was spread out with 28.30% under the age of 18, 10.50% from 18 to 24, 31.20% from 25 to 44, 19.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $45,980, and the median income for a family was $54,770. Males had a median income of $39,878 versus $27,364 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,629. 8.90% of the population and 6.30% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 10.20% are under