Part III: Metro-Detroit Region Working Toward Wide Spread Transit

In our last two posts we discussed several regional authorities that governments and voters in Southeast Michigan have approved, especially in the wake of Detroit’s financial problems. In this post, we will consider regional efforts to coordinate and fund mass transportation in the area. Transportation planning in Metro-Detroit has long been a fragmented issue. Currently, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), which was created through Public Act 387 of 2012, is placing the finishing touches on its Regional Master Plan. This plan is to include main transportation routes along Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan avenues, along with connector lines going east to west throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. It is these four counties that the RTA encompasses and, in order to have sufficient funding for a robust regional transportation system, the RTA is expected to put a ballot initiative before the voters of these four counties (Detroit included) asking for a yet-to-be-determined amount of funding through a millage. According to Public Act 387 of 2012, the RTA can receive money through voter approved millage funding and/or an additional fee that may accompany state driver registration fees. Ballot initiatives can only be placed on ballots during presidential or gubernatorial elections.

Decisions on how and when to seek public funding are made through the RTA’s Board of Directors. This is a 10-member Board, with each Board member serving three-year terms. The County Executives of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties each appoint two board members, the Chair of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners appoints two members, the Mayor of Detroit appoints one member and the Governor appoints one member. The Governor’s appointee serves as chair but does not vote, according to the RTA’s website.

Prior to the establishment of the RTA, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART) was created in 1967, and it still operates in portions of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Up until recently, SMART did not coordinate with the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), and because of the way SMART initiatives can be placed on the county ballots (by individual counties), Macomb County is the only county in which all communities support the suburban transit authority and are all thereby affected by the authority’s ballot initiatives. In Oakland and Wayne counties, communities have the option to “opt-out” of supporting the authority.

The percentage of opt-out communities as of February 2015 was as follows:

  • Wayne County: 38.6%
  • Oakland County: 57.6%
  • Macomb County: 0%

source

SMARTBus

Most recently, the County Board of Commissioners in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties placed a 4-year 1 mill request for the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART) on the ballot in August of 2014. The 1 mill request, which included an increase from the original 0.59 mills, was approved throughout the tri-county region as follows:

  • Wayne County: 63.45% yes
  • Oakland County: 73.6% yes
  • Macomb County: 59.6% yes

 

While SMART, RTA, DDOT and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) are now expected to coordinate with one another, it has taken about 100 years for the region to develop even a semblance of a coordinated regional transit system.

 

Starting with streetcars in the early 1900s, Southeastern Michigan once had the largest transportation system in the country, according to Tobi Voigt of the Detroit Historical Society in a 2015 Detroit Free Press article. Although the streetcars were once nearly all privately owned, in 1922 the voters of Detroit voted to buy the streetcars, lines and all other materials that made them operational at a cost of $19.8 million. Having bought an aging system, and then with the Great Depression and World War II, the once vibrant streetcar system could no longer be maintained with the funds the city had. The aging infrastructure, however, did not deter people from using the system. According to Voigt, during World War II ridership actually doubled because of widespread difficulty in obtaining gas, tires and vehicles during World War II.

 

While World War II meant increased ridership, post-World War II meant the beginning of a more developed highway system and more wealth to afford vehicles. These societal changes lead to the retirement of Detroit’s last streetcar on April 8, 1956.

 

Following streetcars came busses, a mode of transportation still used today. Similar to today’s operations, the DDOT (formerly the Detroit Department of Street Railways) attempted to coordinate with a regional entity—then called the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA). Created by the Michigan Legislature in 1967, SEMTA was intended to provide service to the seven county region. However, SEMTA did not have the authority to ask voters for operating funds. This, combined with decreasing ridership and President Ronald Reagan’s decision to cut federal funding to regional transit authorities in 1985, caused SEMTA to cut down to bare bones operations. By 1989, SEMTA became SMART, an authority with the power to seek millage funding.

 

With its 2012 creation, the RTA is now the entity charged with coordinating and planning for public transportation in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties; applying for state and federal transportation dollars; and dispersing those dollars to the appropriate entities.

 

Despite the RTA’s status as the “official” regional transportation authority, collaboration between it, SMART, DDOT and the AATA is expected to take place so truly robust, connected and coordinated system can exist.

 

Regionalism never strongly existed in the Metro-Detroit area until the financial downfall of Detroit began, and even though we are now seeing a surge in regional coordination, the coordination between those regional entities remains fragmented.

 

 

Part II: Regional Water Authority Sets Terms for the Next 40 Years

In our last post, we examined some of the regional authorities in Southeast Michigan. In this post we will continue that discussion by considering the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). Like the Detroit Zoo Authorities, the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority, and the Detroit Institute of Arts authorities, the GLWA is a regional entity created in response to Detroit’s financial crisis. In October of 2014, the GLWA was approved by Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties’ Board of Commissioners and on Jan. 1, 2016 the regional authority became fully operational. In addition to creating the authority, the county boards’ approval allowed the GLWA to lease water and sewer infrastructure from the city of Detroit for 40 years at a cost of $50 million a year. The GLWA is made up of six members: two appointed by the Mayor of Detroit, one each by Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, and one by the Governor from the service area outside the three counties. A county can leave the authority if it meets the criteria below:

    • Two-third majority vote by the Board of Commissioners to leave
    • Unanimous vote by GLWA, excluding the county wishing to leave
    • Payment of all financial obligations
    • Water and Sewer services may continue via contract

While the GLWA has no tax power, it does have bonding power, according to its articles of incorporation. This power provides the regional entity the ability to bond for improvements to the water/sewer infrastructure within its service area. Debt service for improvements to the city of Detroit’s system is the responsibility of the city though, according to the articles of incorporation. The lease money paid to the city though can be used for water and sewer improvements on Detroit Water and Sewer Department (DWSD) infrastructure.

The approval of the GLWA also means that all former DSWD wholesale customers (127, 75% of which are in the tri-county area), with the exception of the city of Detroit, are now customers of the Great Lakes Water Authority, according to a statement released by the authority. While other water authorities/commissions are highlighted in the map below, these too are connected into the GLWA system.

The Detroit/GLWA system consists of:

  • 640 miles of large water and sewer pipes
  • Five water treatment facilities
  • One major sewage treatment plant

Within this system, Detroit is to remain in control of its 3,000 miles of local sewer pipes and 3,400 miles of local water mains serving the neighborhoods of Detroit.

In addition, of the 1,400 DWSD employees, about 900 employees are to become GLWA employees, according to the GLWA Articles of Incorporation.

DetroitWater

Part I: Metro-Detroit’s shift toward regionalism starts with Metroparks, speeds up with economic downturn

Regionalism in Southeastern Michigan began to take shape in the 1930s, but it was not until the financial decline of Detroit and the broader region, that multi-jurisdictional authorities truly began to take over an array of services.
The oldest extant regional entity formed in Southeastern Michigan is the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority. Enabled by the Michigan State Legislature in 1939 by Public Act No. 147, the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties approved the authority the following year. In 1942, funding for the parks became available, according to the authority’s history. Since that time the authority has grown to oversee 13 metroparks, which together encompass more than 25,000 acres. The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is governed by a seven-member board; two members are appointed by the governor and the other five are appointed by the Board of Commissioners of the member counties. Currently, all of the metroparks are supported by a 0.2146 mill levy on the residents of Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties. This levy is equivalent to $10.73 for a home valued at $100,000 ($50,000 taxable value).

Metroparks

Southeast Michigan took an additional step toward regional cooperation more than 25 years later (1968) by establishing the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG). This regional planning entity, along with other regional planning organizations in the state of Michigan, was authorized by Public Act 281 of 1945.

According to its website, SEMCOG partners with local government entities—ranging from villages to cities to counties to community colleges—to better improve the area’s waterways, transportation systems and economic vitality. In addition, according to the Clean Air Act and the Water Pollution Control Act, SEMCOG is the region’s planning agency for water and air quality. SEMCOG has also been responsible for the region’s transportation planning.

For SEMCOG, communities choose whether or not they want to be members of regional planning entity. As of the end of 2015 there were 168 different government entities that were SEMCOG members. In Macomb County, Ray Township, along with the townships of Armada, Bruce and Richmond are not SEMCOG members despite their neighbors like Washington and Macomb townships being members. In Oakland County, Pontiac is not a SEMCOG member despite it being surrounded by members.

SEMCOG_members

Despite the existence of regional entities, cooperation among cities and counties in Southeastern Michigan was very limited during much of the 20th century. But Michigan’s economic downturn in the 2000s weakened some of the region’s strongest institutions as they began to face financial problems. One of the first organizations to seek public support through a regional millage was the Detroit Zoo. Once completely owned and operated by the city of Detroit, zoo operations were transferred to the Detroit Zoological Society in 2006. This decision came after the city voted to close it for financial reasons, and the Michigan Legislature promised to provide $4 million to the society for operational aid, according to a 2005 Crain’s Detroit article. Then in 2008, the Michigan Legislature approved Public Act 49, allowing counties to establish a zoological authority and contract for zoological services. The act also gives the counties the authority to levy up to 0.1 mill, with voter approval, for such services. In the same year Public Act 49 was passed (2008), the voters of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties were asked to approve a 10-year 0.1 millage, which equals to $5 a year for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000). All three counties approved the millages:

  • Wayne County: 73.15% yes
  • Oakland County: 74.88% yes
  • Macomb County: 66.5% yes

Each of the three counties has its own zoo authority, whose members are appointed by their county commissions or by the county executive office. In Oakland County, the board of commissioners appoints the members; in Macomb County the County Executive makes the appointment recommendation but the Board of Commissioners must confirm; and in Wayne County the executive makes the appointment. Each authority is charged with administering the funds levied from the millage to the Detroit Zoo.

The successful 2008 request for financial support was not the first time the Detroit Zoo sought public assistance through tax dollars, though. In 2000 and 2002 millages were placed on the ballot; Wayne County supported those requests and Oakland County did not, causing them to fail. Macomb County did not participate.

The 2008 millage, which was passed to support operations at the zoo, contributed to 36 percent of the organization’s operational budget in 2014, according to its 2014 financial report. The breakdown of the percentage of millage funds provided to the zoo from each county in 2014 were as follows:

  • Wayne County: 13%
  • Oakland County: 16%
  • Macomb County: 8%
  • (64% funds earned revenue and through fundraising)

Following the regional support for The Detroit Zoo another regional authority was created—this one intended to support Detroit’s Cobo Hall. In September of 2009 the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed through passage of Public Act 554 in 2008, which allowed the creation of regional convention facility authorities. This regional authority was formed at a time when the North American International Auto Show threatened to abandon Cobo Hall and Southeast Michigan due to the facility’s size and aging infrastructure, according to a New York Times article. Detroit could no longer financially maintain the convention center at a level that would allow it to host such an international attraction.

 

When the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority was formed, so was a governing body to oversee the regional authority. The governing body is a five-member board with representatives from the City of Detroit, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and an appointee from the Governor’s Office. This body oversees the 30-year capital lease of Cobo Hall (the facility is leased from Detroit), which includes a $299 million expansion/upgrade project. The Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority receives funding from revenues at Cobo Center as well as support from the state’s Convention Fund.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) authorities (one each in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) were also created during the 2008 economic downturn to help establish a more reliable base for operations funding for the Detroit Institute of Art. Public Act 296 of 2010 gave each of the three counties the ability to levy up to $10 for a home valued at $100,000 (taxable value of $50,000), with the support of voters, to support “an encyclopedic [comprehensive] art museum whose primary art collection and facility. . . are owned by a municipality located in the state.” Similar to the Detroit Zoo authorities, each county board and/or executive appoints members to its respective authority to oversee the funds brought in through the millage.

In November of 2012 majority of Wayne County (67%), Oakland County (64%) and Macomb County (50.5%) approved the 10-year, 0.2 mill proposal that allows free general admission to residents of the tri-county area. Other benefits of the now-established regional authority include free bussing for school field-trips and senior citizen trips, along with the Inside-Out Program, which brings reproduced pieces of art to area communities.

The approval of the millage meant increased funding for the DIA, along with increased attendance. In 2014, according to the DIA’s Community Relations Report, the institute has about 300,000 total visitors from the tri-county area. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Wayne County: 141,659 = 47% of total visitors
  • Oakland County: 106,433 = 36%
  • Macomb County: 51,834 = 17%

While the DIA millage may still seem to receive the most attention, with concerns over raises and transparency, it certainly was not the end of Southeastern Michigan’s increased shift toward regionalism. Over the next two weeks we will also explore the region’s history of fragmented regional transportation and shift from the region’s reliance on Detroit for water and sewer services to a more collaborative approach.

Washtenaw County gains 770 residents while Livingston loses more than 1,000

Last week, we explored migrations in and out of the tri-county region using 2012-13 IRS tax returns. This week, we highlight the remaining four counties in Southeastern Michigan (Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw) where there was a total net gain of 32 residents. All counties, except Livingston, experienced net gains. Washtenaw County had the highest net gain of residents at 770, while Livingston County had a net loss of 1,085. Even with such gains and losses, the data presented in this post shows that majority of the migration in and out of a these counties occurred within the state’s boundaries.

WashtenawCountInMigration

WashtenawCountyOutMigration

Washtenaw County experienced a net increase of 770 new residents, according to 2012-13 tax returns. The IRS data shows that, there were 9,596 tax returns filed by new Washtenaw County residents and 8,826 filed by former Washtenaw County residents. Former Wayne County residents contributed the most to the population influx with 2,529 of them moving to Washtenaw County. Oakland County contributed the second highest number of new residents at 891, followed by Livingston County at 649. In total, of the 9,596 new residents who moved into Washtenaw County, 5,881 were from other Michigan counties. From outside of Michigan, Cook County, Illinois (where Chicago is located) contributed the highest number of new residents at 344; Los Angeles County in California contributed 130 new residents to Washtenaw County.

When viewing the number of residents who left Washtenaw County for elsewhere, 2,225 residents moved to Wayne County (Washtenaw County had a net gain of 304 residents from Wayne County). Additionally, Washtenaw County lost 915 residents to Oakland County (a net loss of 24), and 536 residents to Livingston County (a net gain of 113). In total, Washtenaw County lost 5,785 residents to other Michigan counties, for a net gain of 96.

From outside of Michigan, Washtenaw County lost 284 residents to Cook County, Illinois (net gain of 58). Washtenaw also lost 142 residents to Los Angeles County, California (a net loss of 12).

LivingstonCountInMigration

LivingOut

Livingston County lost 4,452 residents, according to 2012-13 IRS data, while gaining 3,367, for a net loss of 1,085 residents. Among the new Livingston County residents, 1,027 were from Oakland County, 536 from Washtenaw County, and 469 from Wayne County. In total, 3,285 Michigan residents moved to Livingston County during the 2012-13 time frame. Cook County, Illinois contributed the highest number of new residents to Livingston County, at 44 from an out-of-state county.

While Livingston County gained the largest number of residents from Oakland County, it also lost the most residents to the same county: it lost 1,292 residents, for a net loss of 265 residents to Oakland County. Livingston County lost 903 of its residents to Wayne County (a net loss of 434) and 649 of its residents to Washtenaw County. In total, 4,157 former Livingston County residents moved elsewhere in the state, for an in-state net loss of 872. Outside of Michigan, Cook County, Illinois gained former Livingston County residents at 37, for a net loss of 7.

MonroeCountyInMigration

MonroeOut

Monroe County had a net gain of 143 residents, according to 2012-13 IRS tax returns. This rural county lost 2,350 residents to other counties while gaining 2,493 new residents. Monroe County’s largest population gain came from Wayne County at 852 residents; its second largest gain was from Lucas County, Ohio (Lucas County, which borders Monroe County, is home to Toledo) at 738. Wayne County and Lucas County were also the two counties that gained the most former Monroe County residents. Monroe lost 879 residents to Wayne County (net loss of 27) and 694 residents to Lucas County (a net gain of 141).

In total, Monroe County gained 1,564 residents from other Michigan counties and lost 1,485 residents to other Michigan counties for a net gain of 79 residents.

StClairCountyInMigration

StCOut

St. Clair County lost 2,232 residents and gained 2,192 residents, according to 2012-13 tax returns. The highest population gain for the county came from Macomb County with 1,001 residents, followed by Oakland County at 249. There were 141 former Wayne County residents who moved to St. Clair County. Pasco County, Florida (Tampa Bay area) contributed the largest number of new out-of-state residents to St. Clair County (28).

 

More former St. Clair County residents moved to Macomb County than anywhere else (1,194), resulting in a net loss of 193 residents to Macomb County. Oakland County gained the second highest number of St. Clair County residents at 210 (net gain) of 39. In total, 2,034 residents moved to St. Clair County from other Michigan counties and while 2,124 moved out, for a net loss of 90 residents. Maricopa County (Phoenix area), Arizona was the out-of-state county that gained the highest number of former St. Clair County residents at 25.

Overall, across Southeastern Michigan, there was a net gain of 5,770 residents. However, majority of the migration in and out of each county in the seven county region occurred between neighboring counties.

 

IRS Tax returns show Wayne County nets population gain

At first glance of filed 2012-13 IRS tax returns, it appears that, combined, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties gained about 5,500 residents. However, a deeper look into this information shows that majority of those leaving one county for another are actually just moving over the county line. Of the three counties, Wayne County was the only one to experience a net gain, while Oakland County was nearly equal in the number of residents leaving and moving in and Macomb County experienced a net loss.

The information provided in this post is from 2012-13 filed IRS tax returns.

Wayne County In Migration

Wayne County Out Migration

According to the 2012-13 tax returns, Wayne County lost 26,264 residents and gained 34,320, for a total net gain of 8,056. Former Oakland County residents were responsible for majority of the gain at 10,402, followed by Macomb County residents at 6,625 and Washtenaw County at 2,225. From out of state, Illinois’ Cook County (where Chicago is located) contributed the most number of new residents to Wayne County at 449.

While Wayne County gained the most number of Oakland County residents, it also lost majority of its residents to Oakland County as well. Wayne County lost 8,074 to Oakland County. Macomb County gained the second largest number of former Wayne County residents at 4,407. Outside of Michigan Cook County, Illinois gained the largest number of Wayne County residents at 355. Other counties across the country that gained more than 100 Wayne County residents were Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas area, 126 people), Los Angeles County, California (172), San Diego County, California (138), Broward County, Florida (Ft. Lauderdale/Miami metropolitan area, 113) and Maricopa, Arizona (Phoenix area, 211 former Wayne County residents).

Oakland County in migration

Oakland County out migration

Oakland County lost nearly as many residents as it gained in 2012, according to the 2012-13 tax returns. According to the data, there were 29,124 tax returns filed by new Oakland County residents and 30,001 filed by former Oakland County residents. Of those that left, Wayne County received the most at 10,402, followed by Macomb County at 5,499. In terms of out-of-state migration, Cook County again received the highest number of residents at 600. Additionally, Los Angeles County, California (251) and Maricopa County, Arizona (214) also received a high number of residents from Southeastern Michigan. While Oakland and Wayne County residents had similar migration patterns when they left Michigan, we do see that there was a greater presence of Oakland County residents in northern California and Oregon.

Of the 29,124 residents gained in Oakland County, former Wayne County residents contributed to about a third of that number (8,074) and Macomb County residents contributed and additional 5,688 residents. From out of state, there were 592 former Cook County, Illinois residents who moved to Oakland County.

Macomb County in migration

MacOut

According to 2012-13 filed tax returns Macomb County had a net loss of 1,452 residents, with 15,925 new tax returns being filed for the county and 17,377 being filed by former residents. Wayne County received the highest number of former Macomb County residents at 6,625, followed by Oakland County at 5,668. Cook County, Illinois and Maricopa, Arizona were the only two counties outside of Michigan to receive more than 100 former Macomb County residents (140 and 129, respectively).

Macomb County gained more Oakland County residents than Wayne County residents, according to 2012-13 filed tax returns. During this time period 5,499 former Oakland County residents relocated to Macomb County and 4,409 former Wayne County residents relocated there. From outside of Michigan, Maricopa County, Arizona contributed the most number of residents at 160, followed by 145 Cook County, Illinois. Macomb County experienced a net gain of residents from both Maricopa County, Arizona and Cook County, Illinois.

While majority of the migration within the tri-county region took place between neighboring counties, the 2012-13 tax returns do show that Michiganders were leaving the state, particularly to places like Arizona, Florida, California and Illinois. However, the information also shows that there was out-of-state migration in the tri-county region at that time too, and in some cases it meant there was a net gain.

Next week, we will examine migration patterns for the remaining counties that make up Southeastern Michigan.

Southeastern Michigan’s average income above nation’s; Detroit’s income continues to lag

Southeastern Michigan has a median household income of about $57,000, $4,000 above the national average (about $53,000), but there are multiple communities in the region with median household incomes far below the local average. Communities within the region with the lowest median household incomes included Highland Park, Detroit and Hamtramck.

Metro-Detroit median household income

SEMichigan Median Household income 2014

In 2014 Highland Park had the lowest household median income in the region at $19,391; this is a decrease from a median household income of $21,469 in 2009. This neighbor to the City of Detroit also had 49 percent of residents living below the Federal Poverty Level ($23,850 for a family of four) in 2014. Similar to the decreased median household income for Highland Park in recent years, there has been an increase percentage of residents living below the Federal Poverty Level.

In 2014 Hamtramck had roughly the same percentage of residents as Highland Park living below the Federal Poverty Level at 49 percent, this too being an increase from 2009. It also had one of the lowest median household incomes in the region in 2014 at $25,183. The city’s 2014 median household income is about a $5,000 decrease from $30,346 in 2009. Detroit, which will be discussed further later, had a household median income above both of these cities in 2014 at $26,095. However, this median household income is still far below the average for the region, state and nation.

In 2014 the median household income for Lake Angelus was $167,083. Between Highland Park, which had the lowest median household income in the region in 2014, and Lake Angelus, which had the highest median household income, there was more than a $130,000 difference; according to our previous post, in 2009 Lake Angelus’ median household income was about $131,000. Bloomfield Township, also located in Oakland County, was another suburban community that experienced an increase in its median household income between 2009 and 2014. In 2014 Bloomfield Township’s median household income was $108,235, in 2009 it was $104,988. Other communities in the region that had a median household income above $120,000 in 2014 were Novi Township ($125,000), Bloomfield Hills ($163,462) and Orchard Lake Village ($152,625).

Despite such high median household incomes it wasn’t Oakland County with the highest median household income of the seven counties in the region, rather it was Livingston County. In 2014, Livingston County had a median household income of $73,994; Oakland County’s median household income was $66,436. Conversely, Wayne County had the lowest median household income $41,421.

Although Livingston County did not have any communities with a median household income above $120,000, 10 of 18 communities (data was not available for Fenton) had median household incomes above $70,000. Brighton Township had the highest median household income in Livingston County at $94,611 and the Howell had the lowest at $43,482. In Oakland County median household incomes ranged, by community, from $27,632 (Pontiac) to $167,083.

Detroit Median Income

Detroit’s median household income in 2014 was $26,905, a decrease from $33,754 in 2009. With incomes decreasing, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line increased from 33.2 percent in 2009 to 39.4 percent in 2014 in Detroit.

Despite there being a median income of $26,905 in Detroit there are neighborhoods in the city where the median household income ranges up to about $103,000. The neighborhoods with the highest median household incomes in Detroit are Palmer Park, Rosedale Park and Indian Village. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are several Census Tracts where the median household income in 2014 ranged between $8,733 and $15,000. The majority of these Census Tracts were located in the eastern part of the city, around lower/middle Woodward and Rosa Parks. There were also a few near Brightmoor and Chandler Park.

Overall, we see that while regionally Southeastern Michigan had a median household income above the state and national average in 2014 there are several impoverished communities in the region where the median income not only continues to decline, but the poverty rate continues to rise. Although there are pockets of wealth and poverty both located within the region, the majority of the region has a median household income between $30,000 and $90,000.

Poverty in Metro-Detroit spreading through the suburbs

Between 2009 and 2014, poverty levels in the region’s urban communities, such as Detroit, Pontiac and Highland Park, increased, just as they did for some of their suburban neighbors. One might assume that the city of Detroit had the region’s highest percentage of residents living below the poverty level in 2014 due to the amount of press coverage it receives regarding poverty, crime, and various economic indicators. However, the city of Hamtramck, an immediate neighbor to Detroit, actually had the highest percentage of residents living below the federal poverty level in 2014.

This post will examine the percent of residents throughout the region below the poverty level in 2009 and 2014. Both the change in percent and concentration will be shown with various maps. For reference, according to the U.S. government, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in 2014 for a family of four was $23,850; in 2009 the FPL was $22,050 for a family of four.

DetroitPoverty2009

 

DetroitPoverty2014

In 2014, the cities with 30 percent or more of residents living below the poverty line were:

  • Ypsilanti: 30.6%
  • Inkster: 37 %
  • Pontiac: 37.8%
  • Detroit: 39.4%
  • Highland Park: 47.6%
  • Hamtramck: 48.5%

 

As mentioned above, in 2014, the city of Hamtramck had the highest percentage of individuals living below the poverty line at 48.5 percent; in 2009, that number was 38.4 percent. In the city of Detroit, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line increased from 33.2 percent in 2009 to 39.4 percent in 2014.

 

Each county within the Southeastern Michigan region, with the exception of Livingston County, experienced an increase in the number of communities with a higher percentage of residents living below the poverty line between 2009 and 2014. For example, in 2009, a majority of St. Clair County had less than 10 percent of its residents living below the poverty level, but by 2014 that shifted to between 10-19 percent of residents. There were some communities within that county, though, such as Fort Gratiot and Port Huron Township, which experienced a decrease in the percentage of people living below the poverty level. The higher poverty levels in St. Clair County shifted to the more rural area (the northern part of the county) and to the waterfront communities. Overall, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line in St. Clair County in 2014 was 15.2 percent.

 

Another visible increase in the percentage of residents living below the poverty level was in the southern portion of Macomb County. Here, cities such as Eastpointe, Sterling Heights, Center Line and Utica all went from having less than 10 percent of their populations living below the poverty level to between 10 to 19 percent of the populations living below the poverty level. For Eastpointe, just under 10 percent of the population lived below the poverty level in 2009 and in 2014 that percentage increased to 23.5 percent. In Sterling Heights, 7.9 percent of the population lived below the poverty level in 2009, and in 2014 that number increased to 13 percent. Macomb County’s overall poverty rate was 12.2 percent in 2014.

The increase in the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line took place in Wayne County as well, with Redford, Flat Rock, Inkster, Wayne, and the southwest portion of the county all experiencing visible changes. Overall, Wayne County had a poverty rate of 24 percent in 2014.

While several communities throughout the region did experience an increase in the percentage of residents living below the poverty line there were, as noted above, some that experienced a decrease. For example, in 2009, 10.5 percent of the population in Howell Township in Livingston County lived below the poverty line and in 2014 that number was 4.6 percent.

Among the counties in Southeastern Michigan, Livingston County had the lowest percentage of individuals living below the poverty level in 2014 at 5.4 percent. The percentage of individuals living below the poverty level in Oakland County in 2014 was 9.9 percent and in Monroe County it was 11.8 percent.

SEMichiganPoverty2009

SEMichiganPoverty2014

Poverty, while being largely concentrated in the city of Detroit, has shifted outward toward the suburbs between 2009 and 2014, as illustrated above. In Wayne County, areas of Detroit, such as downtown, have experienced decreases in the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line while places such as Westland, Romulus and the western portion of the county have experienced an increase. To the north of Detroit, communities in southern Macomb County, such as Eastpointe, and in southeastern Oakland County, such as Hazel Park and Oak Park, have also experienced an increased percentage in the number of residents living below the poverty line.

 

Ann Arbor, while not experiencing a shift the magnitude of Detroit’s, has also seen its populations living below the poverty levels shift to nearby areas like Pittsfield and Scio. Additionally, in Ann Arbor, poverty concentration has decreased in the northeastern portion of the city and dispersed throughout the entire city.

 

While the region has experienced a slight shift and a clear growth in concentrated poverty, this isn’t an uncommon trend for other metropolitan areas throughout the Midwest region. According to “Architecture of Segregation: Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy,” a new study by the Century Foundation, concentrated poverty has spread from within the boundaries of metropolitan cities and into the inner ring suburbs. This has been attributed, in part, to the gentrification and increased taxes of urban communities, which has resulted in the movement of residents who are living below the poverty level to inner ring suburbs with aging infrastructure.

DetroitPovertyChange

DetroitPoverty2009

DetroitPoverty2014

 

DetroitPovertyConcentration2010

PovertyDetroitDD2014

 

Between 2010 and 2014, pockets of Detroit neighborhoods experienced a decline in the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line while others experienced increases upwards of 20 percent. Concentrations of poverty in Detroit increased in areas such as Cody/Rouge, the neighborhoods bordering Grosse Pointe Farms, along the borders of Hamtramck, and the Southwest neighborhoods of the city.

Only about a dozen census tracts had less than 20 percent of individuals living below the poverty line in 2010. A majority of these census tracts were located on the city’s west side, west of Palmer Park and near Rosedale Park, along with about four bordering the Grosse Pointes on the east side. By 2014, a majority of those census tracts experienced at least a 5 percent increase in the percentage of residents living below the poverty level.

 

The neighborhoods along Woodward Avenue north of Highland Park, such as Palmer Park and Green Acres, experienced some of the largest decreases in the percentage of individuals living below the poverty level in the city of Detroit between 2010 and 2014. The Midtown, East Riverside, and Corktown areas also experienced decreases in the percentage of residents living below the poverty level.

 

In spite of the positive trends in these neighborhoods, however, high poverty census tracts have dramatically increased in the city of Detroit since 2000, according to the Century Foundation study cited earlier. By 2014, the majority of the census tracts in the city of Detroit had between 40 and 59.9 percent of residents living below the poverty level. As such, even with the improvements made, poverty concentration continues to be a challenge in the city of Detroit.

It is policies, both new and recent, that have helped contribute to the increase in concentrated poverty. From the investment into new infrastructure, rather than fixing what already stands, to urban sprawl and the disproportionate building of homes for the middle class and wealthy to the income increases being felt by the rich, but maintaining stagnant for the poor, there are policies in place that allow the growth of poverty and concentrated poverty to occur.

 

 

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in Southeastern Michigan: Chlamydia rate decreasing in Wayne County, but nearly double Michigan’s rate

In examining three major Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) we find Chlamydia experienced rate increases in five of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan between 2004 and 2014, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health. Oakland and Wayne counties were the only two that didn’t experience rate increases for this sexually transmitted infection (STI). These two counties were inline with the state trend; Michigan experienced a chlamydia rate decrease between 2004 and 2014, from 484.3 per 100,000 people to 452.5. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the increase in chlamydia rates was a national trend, as it increased about three percent from 2013 to 2014.

 

Chlamydia and gonorrhea were most commonly diagnosed in 15-24 year-olds throughout the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is an ongoing national trend that a Centers for Disease Control Doctor Gayle Bolan said is occurring, in part, because of sexual relationships beginning at an early age, according to NBC News. Overall STI rates are increasing nationally because budget cuts to STI programs, changed behavior of gay and bi-sexual men and better reporting mechanisms, Bolan said. She said chlamydia is the most affected by better reporting mechanisms, as it has always been amongst the most common STI, while syphilis rates seem to be increasing because of the changed behavior of gay and bi-sexual men.

Also, officials from Rhode Island to Kent and Wood counties on Michigan’s west side are attributing their STI rate increases to “hook-up” apps like Tinder because of the increased opportunities they allow for casual sex.

 

In Michigan as a whole, not only are chlamydia rates decreasing, but so are gonorrhea rates; conversely, syphilis cases are increasing. This trend is similar with regional trends.

 

Chlamydia was the only sexually transmitted infection for which data were recorded for all seven counties at three time periods (2004-2008 average; 2009-2013 average and 2014). The sexually transmitted infection of syphilis has counties lacking data for all three time periods. Data on gonorrhea for all seven counties is available only for the 2004-2008 and 2009-2013 time periods. It is unclear if missing data is due to data suppression or low numbers.

All rates are per 100,000 residents.

Detroit Chlamydia Rates 2008

Detroit Chlamydia rates 2013

Detroit Chlamydia Rates 2014

St. Clair County experienced the largest chlamydia rate increase of all seven counties from a 2004-2008 average rate of 275.7 per 100,000 per residents to a 2014 rate of 402.4,. In 2014, though, it was Wayne County that had the highest overall Chlamydia rate per 100,000 residents at 811.1, a rate nearly 400 points higher than the states. The 2014 rate of 811.1 decreased from 1076.5 for the 2009-2013 average and from 1007.3 for the 2004-2008 average rate.

As noted earlier, Wayne and Oakland counties were the only two in the region to experience a rate decrease for chlamydia between 2004 and 2014. Oakland County’s average chlamydia rate for 2004-2008 was 300.5, and the 2014 rate was 280.7. Between the 2009-2013 average and 2014 Oakland County also experienced a rate decrease, from 297.6 to 280.7.

The state’s chlamydia rate for 2014 was 452.5, a decrease from 484.3 per 100,000 people for the 2004-2008 average and a decrease from 490.7 per 100,000 people for the 2009-2013 average.

Detroit Gonnorhea rates 2008

Detroit Gonnorhea rates 2013

Detroit Gonnorhea rates 2014

Between 2004 and 2014, of the counties with available data, Wayne County experienced the largest gonorrhea rate decrease from 376.6 for the 2004-2008 rate average to 231.4 for the 2014 rate per 100,000 people. Even so Wayne County had the second highest gonorrhea rate in the state in 2014 (Kent County had the highest rate at 255), according to the Michigan Department of Community Health, but the highest percent distribution of gonorrhea cases in the state came from Wayne County, with 42.4 percent of cases coming from there. The rate decreases for the other three counties with information available-Macomb, Washtenaw and Oakland-ranged between 9 and 15 points between 2004 and 2014. Washtenaw County’s 2014 gonorrhea rate was 72.9, decreasing from the 88.5 average from 2004-2008. Macomb County’s rate of 55.8 per 100,000 in 2014 was a decrease from the 64.7 average rate of 2004-2008. Oakland County’s 2014 rate of 49.6 per 100,000 was a decrease from the 78.7 average rate of 2004-2008.

St. Clair, Livingston and Monroe counties were missing rate data on gonorrhea for 2014. Between the 2004-2008 and 2009-2013 averages St. Clair and Monroe counties both experienced rate increases per 100,00 people and Livingston County experienced a rate decrease. For the 2004-2008 rate averages St. Clair County’s rate was 45, Monroe’s was 41.8 and Livingston County’s was 10.7. The 2009-2013 rate for St. Clair County was 46.6, Monroe 42.2 and Livingston County was 10.5.

 


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Detroit Syphillis Rates 2014

For syphilis data, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties were the only three with consistent data between 2004 and 2014. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, Wayne County had the highest rate of the three counties in 2014 at 32.4 per 100,000 people; this was an increase from 21.9 for the 2009-2013 average and an increase from 20.5 from the 2004-2008 average. Macomb County’s syphilis rate per 100,000 people in 2014 was 9 and Oakland County’s rate was 12.1. These two counties also experienced rate increases from the 2004-2008 average and the 2009-2013 average. For the 2004-2008 average, Macomb County’s rate was 5.6 and Oakland County’s rate was 7.6. For the 2009-2013 average, Macomb County’s rate was 7.5 and Oakland County’s rate was 7.8.

Washtenaw County had data recorded for the 2004-2008 average and the 2009-2013 average. This information that Washtenaw County’s rate between those two time periods experienced a miniscule rate increase, from 7.8 for the 2004-2008 average to 7.9 for the 2009-2013 average.

 

In 2014, Michigan’s syphilis rate was 11.3, an increase from both the 2004-2008 average (7.5) and the 2009-2013 average (7.6). The 2014 rate is nearly a third of Wayne County’s 2014 syphilis rate.

Cancer incidence rates declining across Southeastern Michigan

Overall cancer rates declined across all counties in Southeastern Michigan in the last decade. Cancer rates also declined for nearly all major categories—breast, colon/rectal, lung/bronchial and prostrate—in most counties. The category “all other sites” of cancer, however, increased between the 1998-2002 period and the 2008-2012 period for four of seven counties. These counties were Livingston, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne.

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For the total average cancer incidence rates per 100,000 people Monroe County had the largest decrease at nearly 100 between 1998 and 2012; the 1998-2002 average was 478.6 and the 2008-2012 average was 378.8. Oakland and St. Clair counties had similar rate decreases (73.8 and 84.1, respectively) between that time. For the 1998-2002 average Oakland County’s overall cancer incidence rate was 565.9, and St. Clair County’s rate for this time was 581. For the 2008-2012 averages, Oakland County posted a rate of 492.1 and St. Clair County posted a rate of 496.9.

From 477.6 to 471.9, Washtenaw County had the lowest decrease at 5.7. It was Livingston County that had the lowest average rate for 2008-2012 at 441.1 per 100,000 people; Livingston County’s average rate for 1998-2002 was 451.5.

For Wayne County, the average cancer incidence rate per 100,000 people was 568.2 for 1998-2002 and 525.5 for the 2008-2012 average.

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Livingston, St. Clair and Oakland counties all experienced a decrease in their average breast cancer rates between 1998 and 2012. From 1998-2002 Oakland and St. Clair counties had the highest breast cancer rates with Oakland County reporting a breast cancer rate of 84.6, and St. Clair County a rate of 83.7. St. Clair County had the largest decrease from the 1998-2002 to 2008-2012 average; the rate dropped 20.4 points, from 83.7 to 63.3.

Washtenaw County only experienced a 2 point decrease across those two time periods; it had the highest average rate for the 2008-2012 time period of 73.1.

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Average colon and rectum cancer incidence rates throughout the seven county region decreased between 1998 and 2012, with Monroe County posting the largest rate decrease. For the 1998-2002 average rate per 100,000 people Monroe County’s average incidence rate was 60.2, and for the 2008-2012 average the rate per 100,000 people was 35.8; the overall decrease was 24.4. For the 2008-2012 period St. Clair County had the highest average rate per 100,000 people at 51.6, though it had experienced a very substantial reduction from 74.2 in the 1998-2002 period.

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Lung and bronchus average cancer incidence rates in all seven counties decreased between 1998 and 2012, with St. Clair County experiencing the largest decrease at 17.3, from 90.1 to 72.8. Wayne County had the highest rate at 82.9 for 2008-2012, compared to 90.1 for 1998-2002.

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Monroe County had the largest average prostate cancer incidence rate decrease per 100,000 between 1998 and 2012 of 36.1; the 1998-2002 rate was 76.7 and the 2008-2012 rate was 40.6. Oakland County also experienced a large rate decrease from the 1998-2002 average to the 2008-2012 average; the Oakland County rates went from 104.7 to 79.4. Despite the 25.3 average rate decrease Oakland County’s average prostate rate remained the highest in the region for 2008-2012 at 79.4.

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When looking at all other average cancer incidence rates for the region four of the seven counties experienced rate increases per 100,000 people. Those four counties were Livingston, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Washtenaw County had the largest average rate increase at 15.1 per 100,000 between 1998 and 2012, from 216.4 to 231.5. Monroe County had the largest average incidence rate decrease between 1998 and 2012 at 22. Monroe County’s 2008-2012 average rate was 185.4, the lowest rate in the region, and its 1998-2002 rate was 207.4. Overall, Macomb County had the highest average incidence rate for 2008 to 2012 at 246.4; its 1998-2002 rate was 241.7.

Various measures of labor utilization show improvement in Michigan’s, Metro-Detroit’s economy

  • From August 2015 to September 2015, the unemployment rate across the state increased and in the city of Detroit (monthly);
  • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for Southeast Michigan decreased from October 2015 to November 2015 (monthly);
  • Commodity Price Index increased from October 2015 to November 2015 for Southeast Michigan (monthly);
  • Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area shows home prices are still slowly increasing.

Detroit Unemployment

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 4.7 percent in September to 5 percent in October. Unemployment in the city of Detroit decreased from 12.7 percent in August to 11.5 percent in September.

Detroit unemployed, discouraged workers

 

Displayed above is an alternative measure of labor utilization in the state of Michigan at an annual basis. This measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and marginally attached workers, shows that this too has been decreasing. This measure of labor utilization peaked in 2009 at 15 and by the third quarter of 2015 it decreased to 7.6. From 2009 to 2015 there has been a steady decrease.

Detroit's employed

 

From August to September, the number of people employed in the city of Detroit increased by 386, for a total of 214,192 people employed in the city in September. From March to September, the number of people employed in the city increased by 4,775. In the last year, the month of March had the lowest number of people employed in the city of Detroit.

Auto employment

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 August 2014 to August 2015. From August to September the number of people employed in this industry increased by 1,400, to a total of 106,700. This number is 11,300 more than the number of workers employed in the auto manufacturing industry in September of 2013.

Michigan PMI

The Purchasing Manger’s Index (PMI) is a composite index derived from five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories. A PMI above 50 indicates the economy is expanding.

According to the most recent data released on Southeast Michigan’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, the PMI for November 2015 was 57.1, a decrease of 1.3 of a point from the prior month. It was also an increase of .3 from November of 2014.

Michigan Commodity Price

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, was recorded at 45.5 points in November 2015, which was 1.7 points higher than the previous month and 16.3 points lower than November 2014.

Detroit Home Prices

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 $100,680 in September 2015. This was an increase of $5,610 from September of 2014 and an increase of $50 from August of 2015.