Population Shifts Reflect Aftermath of Economic Distress, Change

Last week we examined the density of the various racial, ethnic and ancestral backgrounds in Southeastern Michigan and this week we further explore how those populations have grown or declined, regionally between 2010 and 2016. One of the fascinating results of this analysis is that it demonstrates a clear reversal in the long term trend for Caucasian population to exit Detroit. This has reversed with substantial increases in the percentage of whites in some inner city areas of Detroit. We see a similar trend in Pontiac in Oakland County. As the first map below shows, population growth above 51 percent or more occurred in the Downtown Detroit, Midtown, West Village, New Center, Boston Edison, Corktown and Palmer Park areas of Detroit. These areas have been popular areas of redevelopment in recent years. Another possible reason for this growth is that homes in Detroit, for example, cost far less than other areas of the metropolitan area, and this makes renting or home ownership feasible when it might not be, after losses of income due to the decline of industry and the job market. One note of caution—the big increases for whites occur with respect to very small base populations. So, big increases might not mean that many people.

As the second map shows, most of Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population between 2010 and 2016. While Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population, there were increases of this population in areas such as Warren, Eastpointe, Dearborn and several outer-ring suburbs. This represents a continuation of a decades long migration outward from Detroit. As job markets integrate, it may be rational for African Americans to seek to be closer to job locations in the suburbs, where, after all, job growth has been higher than in Detroit.

The same forces are in play for the Latinx population. There were also population increases above 51 percent for those of Hispanic or Latinx descent in the region’s outer-ring suburbs, as the third map below shows.

For the Arab ancestry map (the fourth map), we see that there are several areas in the region, including in much of Detroit, where this population is minimal or not present. Where it was present in Detroit, it has been rapidly declining. Conversely, the Arab ancestral population’s growth is expanding in areas of western Macomb and both the eastern and western portion of the southern half of Oakland County.

Overall these maps remind us that population changes that have been steady for decades can change in unexpected ways in just a very few years, especially after a decade of economic distress and change.

Detroit’s Ex-Urban Areas Lack Diversity, Density

The purpose of this post is to show the population density of race, ethnicity and ancestry throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Each dot in the maps represents 500 people and the race, ethnicity or ancestry of that concentration. The groups represented on the maps are those of Arab ancestry, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian. As shown in the first map, there are various concentrations of each throughout Southeastern Michigan, with those of non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian being the most prominent across the region.

A deeper look at the map, and the individual maps, shows that the Caucasian population has the broadest distribution across in the region, with the highest concentrations in Detroit’s northern suburbs (See Below). The only truly notable absence of the Caucasian population in the map below is in Highland Park and in some areas of Detroit.

The group with the next highest population distribution is the African American population, with the largest concentration being in the City of Detroit. Other areas with high-density African American populations are the southern areas of the inner-ring suburbs of Detroit, Southfield, and Inkster, with increasing density in some down river communities and southern Macomb County, especially Warren. Additionally, as can be seen in the map below, Pontiac also is one of the higher density areas with an African American population.

When looking at the first map above, attention is also drawn to the Southwest portion of Detroit, where there is the highest density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. Allen Park, Lincoln Park and Melvindale also have a higher density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. The individual map also shows that there is also some concentration of the Hispanic or Latino population in Pontiac.

 

The final group examined in this post is those of Arab ancestry, and the highest density of this group is in eastern area of Dearborn and in Hamtramck. Dearborn Heights also has among the highest density of those of Arab ancestry. As the Arab ancestry map shows though, western Macomb County, eastern Oakland County and some western Oakland County communities are also the areas of the Southeastern Michigan where those of Arab ancestry live.

As noted, the above maps highlight the population density of various racial, ethnic and ancestral groups in the region. The outlying suburban and ex-urban areas of the region have much lower population density, along with far lower diversity.

Next week we will examine the how the percentage of each of these populations changed between 2010 and 2016.

 

 

NYT: Support for Climate Change Solutions More Popular than Expected

According to a recent New York Times article, there is broader consensus on solutions to climate change than one may automatically think. For example, support for renewable energy is above 60 percent, nationally, and in theory about 70 percent of Americans support the idea of a carbon tax. To read more on these solutions and how the support varies across the country click here.

Elderly Population Continues to Grow in Southeastern Michigan

While there are only 10 communities in Southeastern Michigan with more than 21 percent of the population 65 years of age or older, the number of communities with a growing elderly population is far greater than those with a declining elderly population. According to the data, majority of the rural communities throughout Southeastern Michigan-Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston, St. Clair and northern Macomb and Oakland counties-have seen the greatest increases in a growing elderly population. Overall, St. Clair County’s elderly population grew the most between 2010 and 2016, with nine of the communities experiencing between 6 and 13 percent increases in the 65 years of age and older population. In St. Clair County, Algonac (21%), China Township (22%) and East China Township (26%) had the highest percentage of elderly residents in 2016. However, it was Lake Angelus, in northern Oakland County, that had the highest percentage of resident 65 years of age or older at 35 percent.

Detroit, and its inner and outer ring suburbs have the highest concentration of the aging population that is growing at a slower rate. As the second map below shows, majority of the Detroit suburbs did not experience a growth of the 65 years of age and older population above 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2016. In fact, some of those communities (Hamtramck, Grosse Pointe, Redford, Dearborn Heights) experienced an overall decline in the 65 years of age and older population between 2010 and 2016. In Detroit, the 65 years of age and older population only grew by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2016. According to the data, in 2010 the elderly population was at 11 percent and by 2016 it grew to 12.6 percent. In Hamtramck, the 65 years of age population decreased from 9.1 percent in 2010 to 7.8 percent in 2016.

According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, by 2025 the number of people above the age of 65 will outnumber those 17 and younger. Nationally, such a growth of the elderly population isn’t expected to occur until 2035. There are varying reasons for the growth of the 65 years of age and older population locally, and nationally, including better medical advancements allowing people to live longer and the decline in birth rates over the year. One reason for what appears to be the quicker growth of the aging population in Michigan though is the fact that over about the last decade, particularly during the Great Recession, people have left to find jobs elsewhere. So, in short, out-migration has contributed to the fact that Michigan’s elderly population will outnumber its younger population within the next decade.

Average Life Expectancy in Southeastern Michigan Varies Greatly

We know that one of the outcomes of poverty and the consequent lack of high quality medical care is a shorter life. How big is that difference in Southeastern Michigan? It turns out that new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gives us an idea. That data, at the Census Tract level, shows that average life expectancy ranges from 62 in some inner city Detroit tracts to 90 in some suburban tracts.

As the second first map below shows, most of Livingston County was in the 76-80 years of age range, although there are 18 Census Tracts in Livingston County where the average life expectancy is between 86 to 90 years of age. It is in Wayne County where all the Census Tracts are located, with the exception of one, with the lowest average life expectancies. As the second map shows, in the City of Detroit, there are 14 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 62-65 years of age. Additionally, there are about 40 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 68-70. Most of these Census Tracts are located west of Highland Park, with several located along Grand River Avenue. The only other Census Tract in the region with an average life expectancy below 66 years of age is in Monroe County in the City of Monroe.

The extremes of the data are attenuated when we examine county averages as shown in the third map. The average life expectancy in Southeastern Michigan at the county level ranges from 74.5 years of age to 79.6 years of age. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years of age. At the county level, Livingston County has the highest average life expectancy at 79.6 years of age.

While there is no specific information on what causes low life expectancy in any specific area, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said higher life expectancies are often related to higher education and access to health care and healthy food. In future posts we will examine what may cause the lower life expectancies in the Detroit area.

Detroit’s HIV Rates Highest in the Region

The City of Detroit had the highest HIV rate per 100,000 people in the Metro-Detroit region, according to the most recent data released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The rate per 100,000 people as of January 2018 was 718. Regionally, Wayne County (excluding the City of Detroit) had the second highest rate per 100,000 people at 190. Livingston County had the lowest rate in the region at 54 per 100,000 people. While there is no single reason as to why Detroit has such a high HIV rate (more than four times that of the State’s average rate) there is belief among experts, according to a recent Detroit Free Press article, that it is tied to socioeconomic factors like poverty, health care access and transportation for health care access. In Detroit, according to the most recent Census data, 57 percent of the population has public health insurance coverage and 15 percent has no health insurance. According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, the number of new people diagnosed with HIV cases Michigan has remained fairly stable since the early 2000s, but there has been an increase in the number of young African American gay and bisexual men who have been diagnosed in recent years. Additionally, of those diagnosed with HIV in the State of Michigan, about 51 percent are between the ages of 40-59 years old and 78 percent of Michigan’s population living with HIV are males.

While medical advancements are being made toward finding a cure for HIV, that has yet to occur. Rather, to control and prevent the virus from evolving into AIDS, those diagnosed need to carefully and consistently treat the disease. In Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 20 percent of the diagnosed HIV population goes without regular treatment. Reasons for this are not concrete but it can be speculated that it is related to income, access to health care and overall knowledge on the disease and its treatment. For example, the average lifetime cost for HIV treatment is estimated to be about $400,000 and the annual median income in Detroit is about $26,000. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services those most likely to not receive consistent care in Michigan are: those between the ages of 20-29 (23 percent not receiving treatment), foreign-born individuals (32 percent), Hispanic males (25 percent) and those who inject drugs (23 percent).

 

Although the numbers show that those becoming infected with HIV remains a problem, funding at the State level has dropped over the years. In 2017 $19.4 million was allocated towards assisting those with HIV (medication, medical transportation and services). In Detroit, and throughout the region, there are several options for an individual to receive help. For more information, click here.

Building in Metro-Detroit Beginning to Slow

  • The State and City of Detroit’s unemployment rates decreased at the monthly and annual levels;
  • Regionally, August 2018 unemployment rates are lower than the prior year, with the exception of Macomb and Wayne counties;
  • Housing prices continue to rise in Metro-Detroit.
  • New building permits being pulled regionally decreasing

In August of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.1, a small decrease from the July unemployment rate of 4.2, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for August of 2017 was 0.5 points above what it was in August of 2018.

The Detroit rate was 0.2 points lower in August of 2018 than in August of 2017. Also, the August 2018 unemployment rate for Detroit was 1.7 points lower than what it was the previous month (July 2017).

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for August of 2017 and 2018. In August of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.3, with Monroe County having the second highest regional unemployment rate 4.5. These two counties were the only two in the region to have unemployment rates at or above 4.5 in August of 2018. Conversely, Oakland, Washtenaw and Livingston counties all had unemployment rates at or below 3.5 in August of 2018.

Regionally, Livingston County had the lowest unemployment rate in August of 2018 at 3. Livingston County also had the lowest unemployment rate in August of 2017 at 3.6 while Monroe County had the highest unemployment rate in August of 2017 at 5.7.

When comparing 2017 and 2018, Wayne and Macomb counties are the only two where the unemployment rate was higher in 2018 than in 2017. For Macomb County, in August of 2017 the unemployment rate was 3.9 and for 2018 it was 3.8. For Wayne County there was also a 1.0 difference, from 4.3 in 2017 up to 5.3 in 2018.

The above chart shows 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 $124,240 in July 2018; this was $510 higher than the average family dwelling price in June. The July 2018 price was an increase of $7,160 from July of 2017 and an increase of $15,070 from July of 2016, an increase of $20,900 from July of 2016 and increase of $26,110 from July of 2014.

While home prices have been growing in Southeastern Michigan, a recent Detroit News article detailed how construction is slowing down, largely in part due to land and labor shortages and the associated costs. Also according to the article, August housing permits for single-family home construction decreased by 1.8 percent statewide compared to this time last year. This 1.8 percent increase was nearly the same as it was at this time last year (from 2016 to 2017), but for 2016 that annual increase was about 10 percent, according to the article.

The chart below highlights how around 2011 the number of single family home building permits issued in each county in the region began to increase, spiking in about 2013. Then, more recently, Oakland, Wayne, Monroe and St. Clair counties experienced another increase in the number of permits pulled in 2017. However, the 2018 numbers, which are not complete for the year, do indicate that year end numbers will not compare with 2017. With only three months left in the year, and construction season slowing down for winter, it is likely many, if not all the counties in the region will not increase the annual number of building permits pulled over 2017.

Despite some regional housing growth, the Detroit News article indicated that affordable single family homes, particularly ones geared toward first-time buyers, are lacking in inventory in the region.

Wayne County Has Highest Average Payment for Food Stamps

In Southeastern Michigan, Wayne County had both the highest average payment per person for the state’s food assistance program and the highest number of both adult recipients and child recipients, according to 2018 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Michigan Food Assistance Program is a temporary food assistance program for eligible low-income families and individuals; the program is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the federal level this program is referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

According to the data, thus far in 2018 Wayne County had 244,821 adult recipients of the state’s food assistance program and 178,744 child recipients. Wayne County also had the highest average food assistance payment per person at $132. Macomb County had the second highest number of recipients in 2018, according to the data. In 2018 Macomb had 62,109 adult recipients and 39,179 child recipients. However, Macomb County did not have the second highest average food assistance payment per person. Rather, Oakland County had the second highest average payment at $124. Livingston County had the lowest total of both adult and child recipients (4,449 and 2,652 respectively) and the lowest average payment per person at $119. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the average monthly Food Assistance Program payment to Michigan residents in fiscal year 2017 was $125; Wayne County was the only county in the region above this average. Average payments are based on how close to, or below, the poverty line an individual or family are. The higher poverty level of an individual or family means they will likely receive more funding for food assistance.

The maps below further demonstrate why Wayne County had the highest number of Food Assistance Program recipients. Despite the data below being from 2016 (the state did not have data at the municipal or Census tract level and the most recent data from the Census is from 2016), the first map below highlights how Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster, Ecorse and Lincoln Park all have more than 29 percent of the cities’ households receiving food assistance. Outside of the Wayne County, the only other communities with more than 29 percent of its households on the food assistance program were Pontiac in Oakland County and Port Huron in St. Clair County.

In 2016, 42 percent of residents were on the Food Assistance Program (also known as SNAP/Food Stamps) in Detroit, with the concentrations being along some of the City’s main corridors, including Gratiot and Grand River avenues. There were more than 30 Census tracts where between 58 and 83 percent of the families living there were on the state’s food assistance program; these Census tracts were spread throughout the City. On the other hand, there were only about a dozen Census tracts in the City where 22 percent of the families living there were on the food assistance program; these Census tracts were right along the Detroit River and on the City’s northwest side.

As the data in this post shows, the State’s food assistance program is used by thousands of families in the region. With the state’s new requirement that individuals on the food assistance program must work it will be interesting to see how and if the program numbers shift.

Public Transportation for Work Commute Underutilized in Southeastern Michigan

Throughout Southeastern Michigan public transportation to get to work is utilized by less than 2 percent of the population in almost every community, according to 2016 Census data. The only community in Southeastern Michigan where more than 11 percent the population utilizes public transportation to travel to work is Highland Park. According to the data, 17.5 percent of the Highland Park population utilized public transportation to travel to work in 2016. It should be noted that Highland Park also has the lowest median income and highest poverty levels in Southeastern Michigan. Additionally, Highland Park has both Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) stops in the city. Next to Highland Park, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have the next highest public transportation usage rates for commuting to work, ranging from 5 to 11 percent. These areas also have access to dedicated public transportation systems. For example, in Detroit there is DDOT, which also collaborates with SMART, and in Ann Arbor there is the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

While there are dedicated public transportation systems throughout Southeastern Michigan, they do not service all of the region. This fact is particularly showcased in the map above; nearly all of the green communities have no or limited access to public transportation. In some areas, like throughout much of Monroe, St. Clair, Livingston and Washtenaw counties, there are no sources of public transportation even offered to community members. While in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties access to public transportation is offered, but communities must vote on whether or not to support and utilize the services, such as with the SMART votes (how this service works is detailed here).

Understanding the region’s transit system, or lack there of, is important when reading about the usage of public transportation. When viewing just the numbers it could easily be argued a regional transit system isn’t needed because of the low percentage of users. However, further knowledge on public transportation in Southeastern Michigan shows that there is actually a lack of access, connectivity and education on the economic and community benefits related to public transportation.

The Fate of Transit Remains in Limbo in Southeastern Michigan

The fate of public transit in Southeastern Michigan continues to remain unknown. While the Suburban Mobility Authority For Regional Transportation (SMART) millage passed in communities throughout Oakland and Wayne counties and, just barely, in Macomb County the cohesion amongst public figures and, most importantly, the public continues to disintegrate. The continued outspoken opposition against the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) by Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel tend to gain the most attention, but the near death of public transit in Macomb County should speak even louder. In Macomb County, when a SMART millage goes before voters the entire county must either approve or vote it down. Just last month the voters of Macomb County were asked to approve a SMART millage renewal. The voters did approve the millage renewal, but by a mere 23 votes, even though Hackel was urging for a “yes” vote on this proposal. Four years ago though, when Macomb County voters were asked to approve a millage increase, from 0.59 mills to 1 mill, the passage rate was 60 percent. This approval came before the 2016 RTA millage request that ultimately failed. This RTA millage proposal passed in Wayne and Washtenaw counties, where support was a given, and continues, by the elected officials and businesses, while it failed in Macomb and Oakland counties.

Two years later, officials still can’t come to a consensus on what the RTA proposal should be, which is why it will not appear on the November ballot.

The stories amongst elected officials remain the same, Patterson and Hackel don’t support transit in the form of the RTA, Wayne and Washtenaw county and Detroit officials see the need to expand on current systems and the messaging transit advocates have tried to push for years is not getting through. With the SMART millage passage transit options will continue to be provided in areas of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Additionally, the Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART continue to strengthen their relationship to provider faster and broader connectivity for transit users. However, the negativity propagated about regional transit from Patterson and Hackel seems to be trickling down to voters. It is vital that regional community, meaning the voters, comes together to push for a robust system that allows citizens greater opportunities to travel to jobs, educational institutions and health care providers. There must be support for a system that encourages economic growth, and most importantly, breaks down barriers that currently exist in Southeastern Michigan. To do this, citizens need to educate themselves on both sides of the regional transit debate, grow their understanding on what transit means for a region and not be afraid to speak against the loudest in the room.

As to public officials, one wonders when those officials who do support transit—those in Wayne County, Washtenaw County and Detroit—will realize that they can innovate without their recalcitrant neighbors to the north. A thriving transit system propelled by these governments will support the rapidly evolving growth economy along the east-west axes of I-94 and I-96/U.S. 23, even if our northern neighbors wish to lag. Let’s proceed intelligently and incrementally, if regional and rational are not feasible at this time.