Washtenaw, St. Clair counties have highest percentage of roads in poor condition

On May 5, 2015, the citizens of Michigan are being asked to vote on Proposal 1, which is the State Legislature’s solution to finding more funding to improve Michigan’s roads. In a nutshell, the proposal is asking voters if they support amending the State Constitution to:

  • Eliminate the sales and use tax on gasoline
  • Increase the sales and use tax from 6 percent to 7 percent
  • Increase the portion of the use tax that goes to the School Aid Fund and extend those benefits to higher education and training centers
  • Increase the gas tax and vehicle registration fees
  • Increase the earned income tax credit

(For the exact ballot language please click here.)

Although the proposal, if passed, would affect more than just road funding, much of the discussion revolving around it has been centered on the roads, as can be seen by information offered by the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments, the Citizens Research Council, state and local road departments and even school representatives.

For the purpose of this post, we show what percentage of pavement segments throughout the Southeastern Michigan region were deemed by the Michigan Department of Transportation to be in “good,” “fair,” and “poor” conditions in 2013. Additionally, we look at the condition of bridges in the region during 2014.

The Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating (PASER) system was used to determine the conditions of the roads in 2013. According to this system, a road in “fair” condition needs preventative maintenance while a road in “poor” condition needs a structural fix.

Not one of the seven counties in the Southeastern Michigan region had above 25 percent of its pavement segments deemed to be in “good” condition in 2013 by the Michigan Department of Transportation. St. Clair County had the highest percentage of “good” pavement segments at 24.65 percent and Monroe County had the lowest at 14.08 percent. In comparison to the state average (19.09%), Washtenaw, Macomb and St. Clair counties were the only counties in the region with a higher percentage of pavement segments deemed to be in “good” condition.

When looking at the percentage of pavement segments deemed to be in “good” condition by city, we see that Brighton had 0 percent of its pavement classified with this distinction. Brighton is located in Livingston County and only 14.57 percent of the pavement segments in the county were in “good” condition in 2013. Although only 15.15 percent of Detroit’s road were deemed to be in “good” condition in 2013, there were other cities with a lower percentage of “good” pavements. These cities include: Warren, Grosse Point Park and Livonia.

The percentage of pavement segments in “fair” condition throughout the region is higher than those in “good” condition for all seven counties. Monroe County had the highest percentage of segments in “fair” condition at 58.1 percent, while St. Clair County had the lowest at 35.9 percent. Only St. Clair and Washtenaw counties had a lower percentage of “fair” pavement segments than the state average, which was 47.25 percent.

A look at the cities’ pavement conditions shows that Brighton had the highest percentage of “fair” roads at 73.29 percent. The city of Monroe has the lowest percentage at 17.47 percent; this was lower than the state average. Other cities with the percentage of “fair” pavement conditions below the state average were: Ann Arbor, Detroit, Mount Clemens and Port Huron.

About a third of the region’s pavement segments were deemed to be in “poor” condition (32.3% average for the region), a figure similar to the state average (33.65%). When looking at each individual county in the region, we see that only two-Washtenaw and St. Clair-had a higher percentage of “poor” pavement segments than the state average. St. Clair County had the highest percentage at 39.45 percent and Washtenaw County came in just below that at 38.3 percent.

Port Huron, located in St. Clair County, had the highest percentage of pavement deemed to be in “poor” condition at 57.21 percent. Lincoln Park had the lowest at 7.51 percent. Detroit came in at 32.46 percent.

Wayne County had the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the region in 2014 (15.49 percent), according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. For the city of Detroit, 22.59 percent of its bridges were deemed structurally deficient at that time. In recent weeks, it has been reported by the Detroit News that the I-75 Rouge River Bridge in Detroit is so structurally deficient that holes can be seen through the pavement in some areas. The Fort Street and Jefferson Avenue bridges over the Rouge River in that area are also closed for construction. The West Jefferson Avenue bridge has been closed for repair since 2013 because a bridge operator closed it on a passing boat, according to the News Herald. In addition, the News Herald reports that the Fort Street bridge over the Rouge River has been closed since 2013 because of necessary maintenance projects.

Outside of Wayne County, Livingston and Monroe were the only other counties in the region with a higher percentage of structurally deficient bridges (14.24% and 10.45%, respectively) than the state average (8.82%).

Aside from Detroit, the city of Mount Clemens was the only community shown in this post that had more than 20 percent of its bridges deemed structurally deficient.

The information presented throughout this post highlights the conditions of Southeast Michigan’s roads and bridges. The May 5 ballot proposal, Proposal 15-1, is being presented by Governor Rick Snyder as the solution to ensuring Michigan’s roads receive additional funding so the number of roads in poor conditions doesn’t continue to increase. However, approval of this ballot proposal does mean tax increases. The proposed sales and use tax increase, from 6 to 7 percent, would be used to increase state revenue sharing to cities, townships, villages and counties; it would also increase monies going to the School Aid Fund. These monies would not be used on roads, according to the Citizen’s Research Council.

While gasoline and diesel fuel would be exempt from the sales and use taxes under this proposal, the overall gas taxes would increase to 14.9 percent of the price of each fuel; these initial tax rates would be 41.7 cents for each gallon of gas and a 46.4 cents for each gallon of diesel, according to the House Fiscal Agency. These monies, along with increased vehicle registration revenues, would be solely used for transportation and road funding, according to the Citizens Research Council. However, as reported in the Detroit Free Press and other news outlets, if Proposal 15-1 passes about $13.5 million dollars of the new road money would be spent on Michigan Department of Transportation debt in the fist two years.

What has been touched upon in this post is just scratching the surface on the intricacies of this proposal and the background on Michigan’s road conditions, to learn more about this proposal visit the following sites:

http://www.house.mi.gov/hfa/PDF/Transportation/Legislative_Analysis_Transportation_Funding_Package.pdf

http://www.crcmich.org/PUBLICAT/2010s/2015/transportation_funding_proposal.html

Few Southeast Michigan cities continue to grow

LEGEND:

Green charts indicate increasing population in that decade

Red charts indicate declining population in that decade

Yellow charts indicate the population remained stagnant in that decade

In this post we show through a slideshow how the populations of cities within the Southeastern Michigan region have grown, and in many cases fallen. According to the Michigan Legislature, some cities within the state were formed through the Northwest Ordinance and the authority of territorial government before Michigan was admitted into the union. For example, the city of Detroit was founded in 1701 but it was until 1837 that Michigan became officially recognized as a state. Only after Michigan became a state did the Census start recording data.

In 1840 the city of Detroit and the city of Monroe were recognized as official cities by the Census Bureau. Detroit’s population at that time was 9,102 and Monroe’s was 1,703. Pontiac, Port Huron, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Mount Clemens all appear on the chart a decade later, in 1850.

By the early part of the 20th Century we see growth both within the city of Detroit and the areas surrounding the city. The Home Rule City Act was enacted in 1908, giving the opportunity for new cities to arise, so long as a city charter was created. Fraser, New Baltimore, Grosse Pointe Park, Ecorse, Hamtramck and South Lyon all appear on the 1910 map; they were not incorporated cities to be represented on the 1900 map.

Additionally, in 1910 the Highland Park Plant, located just outside Detroit on Woodward Avenue, opened, as did the Dodge Main Plant, also just outside of Detroit, in Hamtramck; both were automotive facilities. It was the opening of such automotive plants within Detroit and its outskirts that helped propel the city to a population of 1.5 million people in 1930. Just like Detroit’s population, Pontiac’s population had significantly grown up until this point, in part because of the Pontiac Assembly Plant.

It was in about 1930 that the region outside of the county seats and the inner-ring Detroit suburbs began to expand. This started to occur, according to Thomas Sugrue in “From Motor City to Metropolis: How the Automobile Industry Reshaped Urban America,” because the growing middle and wealthy classes (much of which was supported by the auto industry), were beginning to choose to build in cities like the Grosse Pointes and Birmingham.

Although many of the suburbs were experiencing rapid growth, when we move forward a decade to 1940, evidence of population loss in the inner-ring suburbs begins to appear. As can be seen in the red colored maps-which indicate population loss in that specific decade-both Highland Park and Hamtramck began to lose residents in 1940 and have yet to regain their 1930 numbers, which are nearly double current population estimates.

Moving forward to 1950 is when Detroit’s population peaked at about 1.8 million. Then, by 1960, the population decline began, and has continued ever since. As much of region was, and still is dependent, on the auto industry, we saw the building of about 25 new auto plants throughout Metro Detroit suburbs during the 1940s and 1950s, according to Sugrue (2004). This, along with the expansion of the federal highway system throughout the 1950s and 1960s, were all contributing factors to the start of suburbanization in the area (Sugrue, 2004).

While Detroit residents began to disperse from the city prior to its population peak, “white flight” also began to increase following the race riots that broke out in 1967. However, policies show that the footing for this type of out-migration began before those race riots. According to Sugrue in his book “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit”, around the 1940s, as Detroit’s population continued to grow, federal policies around homeownership started to surface that kept African Americans in Detroit and within certain neighborhoods in the city (1996). For example, a majority of the predominantly “black enclaves” in Detroit were redlined on the Home Owners Loan Corporation maps, meaning these areas were not suitable for federal loans or similar aide (Sugrue, 1996). This, along with the combination of access to suburban auto plants because of vehicles and roadways, meant that by 1960 there were more African Americans in Detroit than Caucasians, who had flooded to suburbs (Sugrue, 1996).

As Detroit’s population began to decline, we see that the suburbs began to boom. Warren, Royal Oak, Pontiac and Livonia reached their population peaks in the 1970s. By the 1980s though there were more than two dozen cities in the Metro-Detroit region experiencing population loss, as denoted by the red maps. Everywhere from Farmington to Pontiac to Port Huron to the Grosse Pointes to Detroit to Monroe were all battling with population loss. Additionally, in 1983, the city of Auburn Hills was incorporated (it was formerly Pontiac Township) which is why it first appears on the 1990 chart with a population of 17,000.

Although the city of Ann Arbor was founded long before the last half of the 20th Century, it was one of the few that continued to grow, as did other communities such as Woodhaven, Riverview, Sterling Heights, New Baltimore and the area around Novi. In 2010, Sterling Heights, New Baltimore and Woodhaven were some of only a few cities in the region with increasing populations.

One noteworthy population increase in recent years is Dearborn, which recovered from its decades of population loss in 2000. Despite experiencing growth, the Census data shows that Dearborn has yet to bounce back to its population peak, like many of the red colored charts in 2010.

Dropping from a population of about 1.8 million in 1950 to 714,000 in 2010, we see people left the city of Detroit long before the recession of 2008. In fact, as the charts show, the population loss started about 50 years prior, as the suburbs grew more attractive, the highway system continued to expand and access to vehicles became more accessible to a wider range of residents, enabling many to increase their options for choosing where to live.

 

Sources:

Census Bureau

Michigan Legislature

Sugrue, Thomas. (1996). The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit. Princeton University Press.

Sugrue, Thomas. (2004). From Motor City to Metropolis: How the Automobile Industry Reshaped Urban America. Automobile in American Life and Society. http://www.autolife.umd.umich.edu/Race/R_Overview/R_Overview1.htm

 

Southeastern Michigan region’s population grows while Wayne County’s falls

  • Within the last year Wayne County, which is still the largest county in the region, lost the largest number of residents in the nation (annual)
  • From December 2014 to January 2015, the unemployment rate across the state and in the City of Detroit’s increased (monthly);
  • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for Southeast Michigan increased from February 2015 to March 2015 (monthly);
  • Commodity Price Index decreased from February 2015 to March 2015 for Southeast Michigan (monthly);
  • Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area shows home prices have been increasing since September.

The above three charts show the population estimates for the seven counties that make up Southeastern Michigan. As shown, Wayne County lost about 50,000 residents from 2010 to 2014 while both Oakland and Macomb counties each gained about 20,000 residents. According to WDET, Wayne County had the largest population loss between 2013 and 2014 in the nation; a net deficit of 11,000 residents. On the other hand, Macomb County gained 5,000 residents between 2013 and 2014 and Oakland County gained about 6,000 residents. We do know historically that at least a portion of those leaving Wayne County are from Detroit and are moving elsewhere within the region, to areas such as southern Macomb County.

The overall region experienced a population increase of about 24,000 people between 2010 and 2014, according to Census data. From just 2013 to 2014 the region gained more than half of the four-year increase-about 12,500 residents.

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the unemployment rate for the state of Michigan increased from 6.3 percent in December to 6.6 percent in January. During this same period, unemployment in the city of Detroit also increased from 12.2 in December percent to 14.3 percent in January.

From December of 2014 to January of 2015, the number of people employed in the city of Detroit decreased by 2,178, leading to a total of 210,741 people employed in January.

The above chart shows the number of people employed in the auto manufacturing industry in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (Detroit-Warren-Livonia) from January 2014 to January 2015. From July 2014 to January 2015 employment in this industry has increased by 13,300 from 91,600 to 104,900. From just December to January the number of people employed in this industry grew by 3,300.

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, was recorded at 50 points in March 2015, which was 2.5 points lower than the previous month and 11.4 points lower than March 2014.

The above charts show the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $97,900 in January 2015. This was an increase of approximately $3,100 from the average price in January 2014. Since September, prices have decreased by $2,830.

US Postal Service: Address vacancies increase in Detroit

As an ongoing project, David Martin, Ph.D. of Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies, has tracking the number of address vacancies in the city of Detroit. As you will see in this particular post, there has been a gradual increase in vacancies, a trend that has not been all that uncommon over the years.

 

The most recent (December 2014) quarterly statistics from the U.S. Postal Service show an increase in the total number of vacant addresses in the city of Detroit. The total number of vacant addresses (both residential and commercial) increased by 1,288 from 89,480 to 90,768 for the period Sep 2014 to Dec 2014. The total number of residential addresses declined by 372 from 361,887 to 361,515 likely reflecting ongoing demolition activity during the quarter. The total vacancy rate increased from 22.0% to 22.4%.

Source: United State Postal Service via HUD, March 2014.

Tracking Neighborhood Vacancy Change in Detroit:

Percentage Point Change in Address Vacancy over the Past Year (12/2013-12/2014)

Best Performing Neighborhoods in Detroit 12/2013-12/2014 (Green)

Wayne State, West Canfield, Art/Cultural Center, Atkinson/Euclid. Lafayette Park, East Riverfront,, Cody, Rouge Park, Palmer Park, Indian Village, Castle Rouge, Springwells, Woodmere, Islandview, Von Steuben.

Worst Performing Neighborhoods in Detroit 12/2013-12/2014 (Red)

Tireman, NW Goldberg, Newberry, Lasalle Gardens, Brightmoor, Grandmont, Schoolcraft, State-Fair/Nolan, The Eye, Stewart, East Warren, Southeastern, Regent Park, Denby, Pulaski, Outer Dr/Van Dyke, Medical Center, Masonic, Temple/Cass

The Motor City and Automotive Industry still dictate state’s export economy

The Southeast Michigan region was the fifth largest export market in the United States in 2013 according to U.S. Census Bureau Statistics, with more than $53.9 billion in exports. In the same year, the state of Michigan reported $58.7 billion in exports, making the region (which includes Lapeer County in the Southeast Michigan) responsible for 91.8 percent of the state’s export economy. This post explores the role of exports in the regional economy and examines how trade connects the region to the world economy.

The map above shows the top 25 export recipients receiving goods originating in Michigan in 2014. In 2014, Michigan exports accounted for 3.4 percent of the national export total, by value. Among the top 25 export recipients are countries on six of seven continents. The strongest partnership is with neighboring Canada at more than $25,405 million. Fellow North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partner Mexico follows Canada, but is well behind at $10,804 million.

Export statistics support Michigan’s case as a leader in automotive manufacturing, and this is driven by Detroit. Of the top 25 products being exported, 21 were automotive parts or vehicles; they comprised 45.4 percent of all exports from the state of Michigan in 2014, and grew by 2.9 percent, on average, between 2013 and 2014. Exported products that were not directly related to the automotive industry were aircraft parts, natural gas, iron ore and medicines. These products represented just 6.6 percent of all exports, by value, and saw an average growth of just 2.7 percent from 2013 to 2014.

In 2013 Wayne County produced the lion’s share of exports by value in the region ($31 billion), more than double the second-highest exporting county (Oakland at $14.5 billion), according to the International Trade Administration (ITA), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, using Census data from 2013.

The ITA also indicates that exports were not predominantly the Big 3 automakers exporting finished products, but small producers of automotive parts. In 2011, 7,215 different businesses exported out of metropolitan region, with 90 percent of exports coming from firms employing fewer than 500 employees, according to the ITA.

The next two maps look specifically at the Ports of Detroit (this includes two ports, Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the Port of Detroit – a container port). These maps show export partners by value and by weight for 2010, the last year for which the Census Bureau has port-specific data publicly available. When examined by value, Detroit sent a great deal of export value in 2014 ($USD) to Canada and Western Europe. No country outside these two regions received more than $25 million in exports from Detroit. Nations with robust automotive industries of their own – Germany, the United Kingdom and France – are among some of the largest recipients of Detroit products.

When examined by weight, a more broad trade geography emerges. Including this measure allows us to see more clearly where finished vehicles and iron ores are going. While Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom still lead among export recipients when considered by weight, South Africa and China emerge as significant trade partners.

The ITA indicates that since 2010 Michigan has seen a noteworthy increase in trade (by value) with Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates, which have overtaken many of the European nations to join Canada among the top five recipients of Detroit-area exports.

 

Manufacturing jobs decentralized from Detroit

In this post, we look at the data on manufacturing employment in the seven county region to see the variation in manufacturing jobs are throughout the Metro-Detroit Region. One thing that stands out is the lack of manufacturing trade-based jobs in Detroit in 2012.

In the map above we see that for every hundred people that lived in Detroit in 2012 there were only 2.5 manufacturing jobs.

By 2012 manufacturing jobs were decentralized from outside the city in Livingston County, which had the highest number of manufacturing jobs per person at 10 per 100 people. By contrast within Wayne County there were only 4.4 manufacturing jobs per 100 people. Both Macomb County and St. Clair County rank above that.

The GM Tech Center, TACOM (a U.S. Army manufacturing plant that makes items such as tanks for soldiers), and manufacturing plants for all of the Big Three, along with their suppliers are located in Warren in Macomb County. According to Crain’s Detroit, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford are three of Macomb County’s largest employers. Also in that list is the U.S. government, which would include TACOM

The county with the lowest number of manufacturing jobs per 100 people was Washtenaw County; there were 3.5 manufacturing jobs per 100 people in 2012.

Where the previous map examined the manufacturing jobs per 100 people, this looks at the absolute number of manufacturing jobs in each municipality. It presents a very different perspective. We see, from this perspective, that Detroit was one of a few places in the region with more than 5,000 manufacturing jobs in 2012.

However, Detroit is not home to a majority of the manufacturing jobs in existence in the region. Most of the manufacturing plants of the Big Three are located outside of the City of Detroit. For example, Ford only has one manufacturing plant in Detroit, but has 12 in the Metro-Detroit suburbs. This is part of the reason we see the manufacturing hot spots such as Livonia, Wayne and Dearborn.

With GM, in addition to its headquarters being located in Detroit, there is one manufacturing plant that is located within the City and 12 in the suburbs, according to the GM website. For Chrysler, the ratio is much more equal; there are four Chrysler plants located in Detroit and five in the suburbs, according to the Chrysler website.

Detroit among several communities where more than 50 percent of children live below the poverty line

The message from the maps below is clear: the percentage of children living below the poverty line in 2013 in the city of Detroit was far greater than the majority of the other communities in the seven county region. At 55.1 percent, Detroit’s poverty rate was double that of the national rate (19.9 percent) and double or more of the rates of each county within the region.

The Census Bureau, which produced this data for the American Community Survey, uses a set of money income thresholds, as set by the Office of Management and Budget, which vary by family size and composition to determine what the poverty line is. The poverty line does not vary by geographic location but is respondent to inflation. Generally speaking, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the annual poverty rate is “calculated using the sum of family income over the year divided by the sum of poverty thresholds that can change from month to month if one’s family composition changes.”

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the weighted poverty level in 2013 for a family of four was $23,834.

With Detroit having 55.1 percent of its children living below the poverty level in 2013, we also see that at the county level, Wayne County had the highest child poverty rate at 22.5 percent. While cities like Livonia, Canton, Plymouth and Woodhaven all had child poverty rates below 10 percent, there were some communities in Wayne County where levels were above Detroit’s. For example, Highland Park had the highest percentage of children living below the poverty line at 68 percent. Hamtramck’s percentage was also above Detroit’s at 62.1 percent, as was Inkster’s at 56.3 percent. The percentage of children living below the poverty level in River Rouge was just below Detroit at 50.1 percent.

Pontiac, which is in Oakland County, was the only other community within the region where more than 50 percent of its children were living below the poverty line. In 2013 in Pontiac, 54.3 percent of the children lived below the poverty line.

On the opposite end of the spectrum in Wayne County, there were communities such as Grosse Pointe (1%), Grosse Pointe Farms (1.8%), Grosse Ile (4.7 %), and Plymouth (5%) where 5 percent or less of the child population lived below the poverty line. In Oakland County, there were 11 communities where 5 percent or less of the children lived below the poverty line. These communities were: South Lyon (.2 percent), Royal Oak (5%), Rochester (5%), Orchard Lake (.7%), Novi (0%), Lake Angelus (0%), Huntington Woods (.3%), Bloomfield Hills (0%), Birmingham (3.1%), Berkley (4.8 percent), Sylvan Lake (0%).

Overall, Livingston County had the lowest percentage of children living below the poverty line at 7.4 percent. This was the only county where less than 10 percent of the children in a county lived below the poverty line. Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Monroe counties all had less than 20 percent of their child populations living below the poverty level.

Although Detroit did not have the highest percent of children living below the poverty line in the seven county region, its rate did soar above the national and county averages. As seen in the map above, the majority of the census tracts within the city had 50 percent or more of its children living below the poverty line. Pockets of this poverty appear to be concentrated more so in the east side of the city, in Southwest Detroit, and near the Warrendale neighborhood on the west side. There were only seven census tracts within the city where 10 percent or less of the children were living below this poverty line. These areas include the downtown area, Indian Village, Arden Park, East Village, Midtown and Rosedale Park.

Property values increase throughout Wayne and neighboring counties

Preliminary numbers released by County Equalization Departments show that throughout Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties property values increased between 2013 and 2014. According to state law, property assessments are equal to half a property’s market value. Overall, Oakland and Macomb counties saw assessed property values increase by upwards of 11 percent. In Wayne County though, overall assessed property values increased by about half that amount. The assessed property values in the city of Detroit decreased by 9.7 percent. The values are expected to be approved by the county legislative bodies in April.

As seen in the first map, the tri-county region experienced an increase in assessed property values. In the second map, we are able to see what communities experienced higher increases than others. In Oakland County, Madison Heights experienced the largest percentage increase in assessed property values at 15.95 percent, while in Macomb County, Sterling Heights had the largest percentage increase at 15.29 percent. Riverview in Wayne County had the largest percentage increase in the tri-county area at 20.95 percent.

 

Wayne County, however, was also the only county in the area where certain communities experienced a decrease in their property assessment values. River Rouge in Wayne County experienced the largest decline at 26.65 percent. Other communities in the county that experienced property assessment value declines were Inkster, Hamtramck, Detroit and Lincoln Park.

Values for New Haven, Romeo and the Village of Armada, all in Macomb County, were not available.

Pontiac schools have lowest percentage of third-graders meeting state reading proficiency levels in 7-county region

Today kicks off “March is Reading Month” and with that comes a focus on the foundation that proficient reading skills can provide a person. A great deal of attention by educators and policymakers is often placed on third grade reading levels because experts believe a child’s ability to read at that time in their life can be a crucial indicator for their future success.

Additionally, in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder announced during his State of the State Address a $468 million proposal meant to increase reading proficiency in the State of Michigan. Part of this proposal includes a reading proficiency test for third-graders to better determine how their cumulative instruction has affected their reading skills, which would be separate than the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP). However, the Governor has yet to release all the details behind this plan but in spring of this year we do know that the Michigan Test of Education Progress will replace the MEAP.

Currently in the State of Michigan, the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) is used to determine how students in grades three through 11 measure up to the educational expectations set by the State Board of Education. For all grade levels the state’s goal is to have 80 percent of all of Michigan’s third-graders reading at a proficient level, according to the State of Michigan.

With the extra attention currently being placed on reading proficiency in the State of Michigan, we chose to examine the percent of third and fourth-grade students who were deemed proficient on the MEAP reading exams in 2013-2014. The MEAP tests are given in the fall of every academic year, so we show both the third and fourth-grade reading proficiency percentages to provide readers a better understanding of where students’ reading skills, in accordance with state standardized testing levels, were at the beginning and end of third and fourth grade. On the state’s education website, mischooldata.org, fourth-grade reading MEAP scores are used on the dashboard for each school as a student outcome measure.

For the 2013-14 school year, 61.3 percent of Michigan’s third-graders were deemed proficient in reading. When looking at this map we see several pockets of school districts where third-graders either performed at this level or below. In total, there were 53 school districts where less than 61.3 percent of the third-grade students were deemed proficient in reading. According to the Michigan Department of Education proficiency levels for the 2013-14 MEAP exam are determined as follows: “the 2011-2012 proficiency rate for each school and district in every subject [is] subtracted from the end 85 percent proficiency target rate for the 2021-2022 school year. That number [is] then divided by ten (the number of years between the 2011-2012 and 2021-2022 school years) to determine the annual increment for the subject target rate. This increment is added to the 2011-2012 subject proficiency rate and then again each year leading up to the 2021-2022 school year.” The proficiency rate varies from district to district but the percent deemed proficient, which is shown in the maps in this post, presents the percentage of students we met these standards.

Pontiac School District in Oakland County had the lowest percentage of third-graders who met the proficiency standards at 25.7 percent. Detroit City School District had the eighth lowest percentage at 35.3 percent.

On the opposite end of the spectrum during the 2013-14 school year, Grosse Ile Township Schools had the highest percentage of third-graders deemed proficient on the reading portion of the MEAP; 86.7 percent of those students were considered proficient.

Seventy percent of Michigan fourth-graders were deemed proficient in the 2013-14 school year on the MEAP reading examination. In total, there were 49 school districts below the state’s proficiency level during the time frame examined.

Again, the Pontiac School District had the lowest percentage of students deemed proficient in reading in the region (32%). The Detroit City School District had the sixth lowest percentage of all the districts in the region, with 42 percent of its students meeting the proficiency level.

Northville Public Schools had the highest percentage of students who met the reading proficiency levels (91.2%). Grosse Ile Public Schools came in third in the region, with 90.3 percent of their fourth-graders meeting proficiency levels.

NYT: Middle-class occupations have shifted

The following graphics, from the New York Times, summarize the labor market changes nationally since 1980. They make very clear why Michigan and the Detroit Metropolitan area have had such a hard time, given this area’s concentration in two categories–skilled production workers and machine operators and assemblers. Both of these categories have declined precipitously, both in absolute and relative terms. The accompanying article is a useful explanation of the national trends.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/23/business/economy/the-changing-nature-of-middle-class-jobs.html