Detroit’s vacancies decline, according to US Postal Service

The most recent (June 2015) quarterly statistics from the U.S. Postal Service showed a decline in the number of vacant addresses in the city of Detroit. The total number of vacant addresses decreased by 1,936 from 92,464 to 90,528 for the period March 2015 to June 2015. The total number of residential addresses increased by 831 from 361,171 to 362,002. The total vacancy rate declined from from 22.8% percent to 22.3 percent.

However, the number of addresses classified as “no-stat” increased sharply by 1,563. Mail carriers denote properties as being either “vacant” or “no-stat.” Carriers on urban routes mark a property as vacant once no resident has collected mail for 90 days. Addresses are classified as “no-stat” for a variety of reasons. Addresses in rural areas that appear to be vacant for 90 days are labeled no-stat. So are addresses for properties that are still under construction, and urban addresses that the carrier decides are unlikely to be occupied again any time soon — meaning that both areas of high growth and severe decline may be labeled no-stat.

Source: United State Postal Service via HUD, March 2015.

June 2015 Address Vacancy Rates by Census Tract

(percentage of all addresses that are vacant)

Change in Address Vacancy Rates: June 2015 versus June 2014

(percentage point change)

Red = Increase in address vacancy rate

Green = Decline in address vacancy rate (improvement)

Top 25 Best Performing Neighborhoods for June 2015 versus June 2014

The map below illustrates the Detroit neighborhoods showing the largest percentage point reductions in their address vacancy rate. A reduction in the vacancy rate may result from an increase in occupancy or by way of demolition activity (which also reduces the number of vacant addresses). Concentrated demolition activity in the McNichols/Gratiot area has reduced the address vacancy rate but these areas still rank among the highest in the city at nearly 40 percent vacant.

For a map of demolitions, see the City’s Demolition Data Lens page at

Top 25 Worst Performing Neighborhoods for June 2015 versus June 2014

The highlighted neighborhoods showed the largest increases in their vacancy rates between June 2014 and June 2015. Sixteen of the top 25 census tracts which showed increases in address vacancy are located on the west side of the city. Two eastside neighborhoods near Van Dyke and Outer Drive also showed sharp increases in address vacancy.


Michigan’s CPL application process being modified

Each county in Michigan has a gun board which uses its discretion to determine if Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applicants meet the qualifications to obtain or renew their license. Each gun board has a representative from the County Prosecutor’s Office, the County Sheriff’s Department, and the Michigan State Police (MSP). Until December 1, 2015 it is at the discretion of each county gun board to determine if an applicant is fit to obtain or renew a CPL. While each gun board has the authority to request applicants to appear before it, Macomb County is the only county in the state to require all new applicants to appear before its gun board.

On December 1, 2015, however, this present system will change.

Under legislation signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in March (Public Act 3 of 2015), county gun boards in the state of Michigan will cease to exist after November 30, 2015. Instead, local control will shift to the state. The County Clerk’s Office will still process and distribute licenses, but the MSP will determine whether or not an applicant is fit to hold a CPL. According to the new law, the MSP will verify the requirements an individual must meet in order to obtain a CPL by using the law enforcement information network and the national instant criminal background check system. Should the MSP find that an individual is not qualified to have a CPL, that information will be relayed to the County Clerk’s Office.

According to Gov. Rick Snyder, these changes will allow for a more unified process that will “better support the rights of firearm owners.” Opponents, however, have criticized the change because of the loss of local control over the process. To read more on this issue, click here.

While any person is able to apply for a CPL the state has the right to deny such requests for a variety of reasons. This process, which will be slightly modified beginning Dec. 1, 2015, is intended to protect the public and prevent potential misuse of a firearm.

The map below shows the percent of CPL applications denied by each county in the Southeastern Michigan region in 2013. As shown, Wayne County had the highest denial rate at 4.5 percent while St. Clair County had the lowest denial rate at .8 percent.

To obtain a CPL in the state of Michigan there is a list of requirements that must first be met. These requirements, according to the state of Michigan, include:

  • Being at least 21 years of age;
  • Michigan residency for at least 6 months prior to application;
  • Successful completion of a pistol safety training course;
  • No felony convictions;
  • No convictions of specific misdemeanors (including domestic violence);
  • No personal protection orders filed against the applicant;
  • No diagnosed mental illnesses at the time of the application

For a complete list of requirements, visit this site.

CPL Licenses Denied

As seen above, in 2013, Wayne County had the highest CPL denial rate in the region at 4.5 percent while St. Clair County had the lowest denial rate at .8 percent. While there is no specific reason given for Wayne County’s rate of CPL denials, we do know that in 2012 Wayne County had the highest probation, incarceration, and prison rates in the seven-county region. A person will be denied a CPL if they have a felony or certain misdemeanors.


General Law Townships predominant government structure in Southeastern Michigan

In this post we examine the types of government structures that exist in Southeastern Michigan. Throughout Michigan there are five types of municipalities including: Mayor-Council and Manager-Council (both of which are for cities), Charter Township and General Law Township, and villages. In addition to showing what type of government structures exist in Southeastern Michigan in a map below, we also detail how those different structures work and offer some reasons a community chooses one structure rather than another.

Wayne County has the largest number of municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, while the more rural communities on the outskirts of the region are predominantly General Law Townships. In total, there are 22 municipalities with a Mayor-Council form of government, in this form the mayor serves as the chief administrator for the city), 10 of which are located in Wayne County. It is General Law Townships though that are the most common form of government in the region, with 72 communities being organized as one of Michigan’s earliest form of governments.

Charter Townships make up 19 percent (41) of government structures in Southeastern Michigan while Council-Manager forms of government makeup 29 percent (65) of the types of government structure that exists in the region. There are 20 villages in the region.

While Wayne County has more communities that operate with a Council-Manager form of government, and the largest number of cities, General Law Townships predominate along the outer edges of the region.

The Differences

As noted, General Law Townships are the most common form of government structure in Southeastern Michigan; all townships are General Law Townships unless incorporated in a Charter Township. General Law Townships were given the option to receive a Charter Township status beginning in 1947 when the State Legislature approved the Charter Township Act. This classification, according to the Michigan Township Association, allows for a more streamlined administration.

According to the Michigan Township Association, townships (both general law and charter) can only exercise powers given to them by state law. All townships are required to collect taxes, administer their local elections and perform property assessments. They also have the option to enact and enforce ordinances, offer local fire and police protection services, and operate parks and recreation programs, among other things, according to the Michigan Township Association. Additionally, all townships are governed by a Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer and two or four trustees.

In terms of levying millages, General Law Townships are allocated at least 1 mill from the 15/18 mills that counties, townships, public schools and intermediate school districts receive, according to the Macomb Township website. Charter Townships though do not receive this same millage allocation. Rather, if they were chartered by a referendum, they can levy up to 5 mills. But if a township was chartered by a board resolution after 1978, then the voters must vote on whether or not a proposed 5 mills can be levied. Under either circumstance, townships can also levy up to 10 mills, but this must be approved by the voters, according to the Macomb Township website.

Townships are part of Michigan’s early history and began to be created in 1790 throughout the Midwest region as a way to help govern land throughout what is now the Midwest region, according to the National Township Association. In the Midwest, according to the National Township Association, townships are typically more rural, as we saw with majority of the General Law Townships being located on the outskirts of the seven-county. Also, according to the Michigan Township Association, a Charter Township status can help prevent a township from being annexed by a neighboring city. Several weeks ago we took a look at how the city of Detroit became the size it is today through annexation. When looking at the map in this post we see that the only township touching the Detroit border is Redford Township and that is a Charter Township. Additionally, we see that throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, where the majority of the region’s cities are located, the majority of the cities border Charter Townships, as opposed to General Law Townships.


Unlike townships, cities must not only perform the same state mandated functions as townships, but they must also provide their own services, such as snow plowing, police and fire services (these services can be contracted out or shared between municipalities). According to the Michigan Municipal League, cities are given a greater amount of independence in how they regulate, in large part because of the Home Rule City Act; this allows cities to enact a charter which provides the framework for how that particular city functions.

The City of Detroit is the most recognizable example of the Strong Mayor type of city government in the region. A Strong Mayor type of government is one in which the mayor acts as the city’s top administrator, serves on a full-time basis, and has the authority to appoint and remove top officials. He or she also typically has some sort of veto power, but the council is the acting legislative body, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

In the Council-Manager form of government the council appoints a chief administrative officer, often known as the City Manager. This person is professionally trained on the day-to-day operations of a city and is often looked to for recommendations by the council regarding policy making.


In addition to townships and cities, there are also villages in the state of Michigan. Villages, which are the least common structure of government in Southeastern Michigan, also come in two forms: General Law and Home Rule. General Law villages, which are the most common, have a village president, which is an elected position, but it is the department heads who typically oversee the day-to-day administrative functions of the municipality. With a Home Rule Village, the president does not need to be elected by the citizens but can be appointed by the council; this person is often referred to as the village manager, according to the Michigan Municipal League.

Metro-Detroit’s home prices increasing

  • From May 2015 to June 2015, the unemployment rate across the state and in the city of Detroit’s decreased (monthly);
  • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for Southeast Michigan increased from May 2015 to June 2015 (monthly);
  • Commodity Price Index increased from May 2015 to June 2015 for Southeast Michigan (monthly);
  • Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area shows home prices are about $3,000 higher than this time last year.

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the unemployment rate for the state of Michigan decreased from 5.9 percent in May to 5.8 percent in June. During this same period, unemployment in the city of Detroit also marginally increased from 13 in May percent to 13.1 percent in June. However, it is 3.3 percentage points lower than where it was in June of 2014.

From May to June, the number of people employed in the city of Detroit increased by about 900, leading to a total of 212,107 people employed in June. Since March, the number of people employed in the city has increased by 2,690. In the last year, the month of March had the lowest number of people employed in the city of Detroit.

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 June 2014 to June 2015. From May to June the number of people employed in this industry increased by 1,600, to a total of 108,500. The June number is the highest employment number this industry has had in the last year.

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 June 2015 was 66.1, an increase of 0.3 of a point from the prior month. It was also an increase of 19.0 from June of 2014.

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, was recorded at 60.7 points in June 2015, which was 4.4 points higher than the previous month and 4.2 points lower than June 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 $101,930 in May 2015. This was an increase of $3,040 since May of 2014 but a decrease of $1,082 from April of 2015.

Seven percent of Detroit’s Liquor License holders located less than a half mile from an elementary school

In 2012, there were about 1,130 establishments in the city of Detroit with liquor licenses, of which nearly 7 percent were located within 0.1 mile of an early learning center or elementary school. In viewing the maps below, we see that the highest concentration of liquor license holders was within the Central Business District, with a medium density of the license holders spanning out into the lower Woodward Avenue, Corktown, and Lower East Central areas.

In Michigan there are several types of liquor licenses which can be obtained. These include licenses needed to sell just beer, those need to sell beer and liquor at a golf course, a hotel, a bar and at a private event. Additionally, brewpubs, distilleries, wholesalers (both those in state and those out of state bringing goods in), winemakers, and stores selling beer and/or liquor need a license. All liquor licenses in the state of Michigan are issued by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

According to a study by the Pacific Institute, a high concentration of liquor stores holders can may be related to several public safety and health problems, ranging from high rates of alcohol related hospitalizations, to pedestrian injuries, to high levels of crime and violence. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation we know that Detroit’s crime rate was 2,122.9 per 100,000 residents in 2012, while the state of Michigan’s was 454.4 per 100,000 residents.

The above density map shows where the liquor licenses in Detroit are located and how some areas have a higher concentration of such licenses. As already stated, the highest concentration was in the Central Business District, where there is a combination of bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.

In the map below, we see where liquor license holders were located, along with what the poverty rates. The majority of the liquor license holders ( 683 or 60 percent) were located in census tracts where the poverty rates ranged between 25.1 and 50 percent. Although the Central Business District had the highest concentration of liquor license holders, the poverty rate in these census tracts was 25 percent or lower. Throughout the entire city there were 205 liquor license holders in census tracts where the poverty level was 25 percent or less.

Of the 1,129 liquor license holders in the city of Detroit, 79, or 7 percent, were located within 0.1 mile of an elementary school or early learning center.

According to the Pacific Institute study, a high concentration of liquor stores (in this post we look at liquor license holders) can lead to several public safety concerns, particularly crime.

In addition to crime being mentioned in the Pacific Institute study, it also discussed how the location of schools near liquor stores can affect the overall health and well-being of the community and the children within those communities. Although there are likely many suggestions on how to better a communities wellbeing, some solutions for Detroit officials may include: enforcing zoning ordinances to restrict nuisance activity by liquor stores or establishments that hold a license, using economic development strategies to transition current liquor stores into places for residents to access healthy foods, and working with the state to re-determine how many liquor licenses the city of Detroit should actually hold and/or what policies should be in place preventing the location of liquor license holders within a certain proximity to schools.

Southeastern Michigan’s Charter Authorizers rank below state averages academically

In Southeastern Michigan there were 15 charter school authorizers during the 2013-14 that were included in the state’s Top-to-Bottom (TtB) list; only one of which was ranked among the best (above 80). The TtB list is an accountability system that ranks Michigan schools based on student performance in math, reading, writing, science, social studies and graduation rates (24 total charter school authorizers were included throughout the state). This list allows for schools to be compared on the same scale, regardless of size. The charts below presents each authorizer’s portfolio as a single entity, rather than by individual schools, by a methodology developed by the Michigan Department of Education’s Bureau of Assessment and Accountability. Like schools and districts throughout the state the charter school authorizers are ranked on a scale of 1-100, 100 being the highest ranking.

It was the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (ISD) that ranked at 85, being the only charter school authorizer to rank above 80 in the region. The only other charter school authorizer to even rank of above 50 in the region was Wayne Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), which ranked at 52.

The Educational Achievement Authority, which authorizes several schools is the city of Detroit (click here for locations) was ranked the lowest authorizer in the region and among the lowest in the state with a ranking of 1 (Kellogg Community College and Muskegon Heights School District also received a 1).Top-to-Bottom Rankings

The Overall Performance Index uses an achievement index, which is a weighted average of two years of achievement data, and achievement gap index, which is a weighted average of two years of top/bottom 30 percent of students’ achievement data, according to the 2014 Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Reporter. The negative scores show that authorizers whose performance index fell below the state average.

The only two authorizers that performed above the state average in the region were the Washtenaw ISD and Wayne RESA. The Washtenaw ISD ranked the third highest for its performance index score (.91) among the 24 authorizers. On the other end the Education Achievement Authority (-1.74) and the Detroit City School District (-1.57) ranked among the lowest authorizers, both in the region and throughout the state. The Muskegon Heights School District (-1.83) and Kellogg Community College (1.75) had the lowest performance index scores in the state.

An achievement gap smaller than the state average is represented by a positive number and means that students in the top 30 percent of state standardized test scores perform at levels closer to the bottom 30 percent, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report. It has also been described as the performance gap in a subject between the top 30 percent and bottom 30 percent of a student body. A positive number means that gap is smaller than the state average and a negative gap means that number is larger than the state average.

The achievement gap accounts for 25 percent of the TtB rankings and below we see that six of the authorizers with charter schools in the region have an achievement gap smaller than the state average. Authorizers with small achievement gaps, such as the Education Achievement Authority and Highland Park City Schools, are more likely to have a concentration of low or high proficiency rates, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report.

In the five charts below we see the percentage of students deemed proficient on the 2013 Michigan Education Assessment Program for the five subject areas students are tested on (math, reading, writing, science and social studies). The authorizers represented above all had charter schools existing in the region during the 2013-14 academic year. The Washtenaw ISD was the only authorizer in the region with students outperforming the state in all subject areas. Wayne RESA was the only other authorizer in the region with students outperforming the state on the 2013 MEAP; this authorizer outperformed the state average in reading.

The Detroit Community School District had the highest percentage of economically disadvantaged students at 88 percent. Eighty-five percent of students in the Highland Park, Educational Achievement Authority and schools authorized by Saginaw Valley State were economically disadvantaged. Schools authorized by Northern Michigan University had the lowest percentage of economically disadvantaged students at 27 percent.

The Michigan Authorizer report references the correlation between poverty and the percentage of African American students to proficiency rates on state standardized tests. There were no authorizers with schools in the region where more than 10 percent of the student population was economically disadvantaged that ranked above 50 on the TtB list.

When reviewing the above information with our previous post we know that majority of charter schools in the 2013-14 academic year in the region were located in the City of Detroit and that the city also had the highest number of closed charter schools at 28. Additionally, we know Central Michigan University had the largest number of schools closed in the region. Although Central Michigan University didn’t rank lowest on the TbT list, it didn’t rank high. With a TbT ranking of 21 Central Michigan’s MEAP proficiency rates were all below the state average (9% below state average for math and reading; 5% below the writing average; 6% below the science average; 7% below the social studies average). Central Michigan University was 19 percent above the state average for economically disadvantaged students.

Of the authorizers with schools in the city only Wayne RESA had students outperformed the state standard, and that was in math. Still, when only looking at authorizers in the city of Detroit Wayne RESA had the largest number of shuttered charters at 8.

While standards for Michigan charter schools have gained more attention in recent years, the above information highlights that the charter school authorizers in the region fall below state standards when it comes to educational assessment. Former State Superintendent Mike Flanagan did say the state would suspend charter authorizers if they did not offer “high quality education options and cultivate better outcomes, especially for low income children.”

In June of 2014 it was announced that 11 charter authorizers were at risk of being suspended by the Michigan Department of Education. These authorizers were: Detroit Public Schools, Eastern Michigan University, the Education Achievement Authority, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Highland Park Schools, Kellogg Community College, Lake Superior State University, Macomb Intermediate School District, Muskegon Heights Public Schools and Northern Michigan University. In 2015, 7 of those authorizers were removed from the list; those remaining are: Detroit Public Schools, the Education Achievement Authority, Highland Park Schools and Eastern Michigan University. What qualifications those authorizers had to meet to be removed from the list are unknown though, according to a Free Press article.


Michigan’s charter schools concentrated in Detroit

Michigan’s charter school system is widely becoming known as a for-profit business venture as well as another option for students to receive high quality education. With over 30 charter school authorizers and management companies throughout the state of Michigan, there is no question that the choice to send students to charter schools is there. However, there are questions over whether or not the academic foundations students need to in order to become successful are also there.

This is a two part post, and this week we will lay the foundation on charter schools in Southeastern Michigan, by showing where they were located in the 2013-14 academic year and detailing where and why others closed. Next week we will look further into the overall academic progress of some of Michigan’s charter school authorizers.

Of the 298 charter schools in Michigan during the 2013-14 academic school year. In total, there were 223 charter schools in the region during the 2013-14 school year. Of all the charters in the state, 31.5 percent (94 schools) were located in the city of Detroit, according to information from the State of Michigan and the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. Within Detroit itself, the majority of these schools were authorized by Grand Valley State University. Throughout the state of Michigan, the most common charter school authorizers are universities; regionally Central Michigan University operates the largest number of charter schools. As the oldest charter school authorizer in the state, CMU oversaw 46 charter schools in 2013-14, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report from November 2014. Grand Valley State University had the second highest number at 38.

It wasn’t until 2012, the year following the state’s decision to remove the cap on the number of charter schools a university could authorize was removed, when several local school districts, intermediate school districts and community colleges also opened charter schools, according to Michigan’s Charter School Authorizer Report.

The for-profit and non-profit organizations that operate charter schools are known as Education Management Organizations (EMOs). Although exact information on the number of charter school management companies for the 2013-14 school year wasn’t available, we do know that there were more than 35 during the 2011-12 academic year, according to a 2013 report (link) by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado. In this report, it states that Michigan had 33 for-profit EMOs operating charter schools, which operated 79 percent of Michigan’s charter schools. Non-profit organizations can also manage schools, as can the authorizers themselves. In July of 2014, former Michigan State Superintendent Mike Flanagan took a stance against charter school authorizers, stating he would exercise his authority to suspend them if they did not live up to the mission originally intended for charter schools, which is “to provide high quality education options and cultivate better outcomes, especially for low income children.”

Flanagan’s statement against charter school authorizers was prompted by the 2014 Detroit Free Press series that took a look at the state’s charter school authorizers, management companies and the way in which both utilize public tax dollars and educate children. The series showed that charter schools lack accountability, despite their use of public funds. This series was published following the 2012-13 academic year, and this post reflects on data from the 2013-14 academic year. However, the Free Press series was used for background purpose.

Below is a breakdown of the number of charter school authorizers in the region for the 2013-14.

As noted, in Southeastern Michigan, the city of Detroit had the highest concentration of charter schools, with 94 (31.5%) operating in the city during the 2013-14 academic year. That year, 24 charter schools closed in Detroit, the highest number for any municipality in the state. Overall, 24.4 percent of all closed charter schools in the state of Michigan were located in the Detroit. Regionally, 42 percent of all charter schools in the state were located in Southeastern Michigan during the 2013-14 academic year, while 57.1 percent of the closed charter schools were from the region.

Southeastern Michigan Charter Schools by location

Just as the city of Detroit had the highest concentration of charter schools during the 2013-14 school year, it also had the highest number of closed charter schools at 28. Of the closed charter schools, Central Michigan University was the largest authorizer with 13 of its charter schools being shuttered in Southeastern Michigan for the 2013-14 school year. When looking at authorizers for just the city of Detroit though, Wayne RESA had the largest number of closed charters at 8. The reasons charter schools close ranges from lack of financial stability and enrollment to poor academics. For example, following the 2013-14 school year the closure of the Catherine Ferguson Academy, authorized by Wayne RESA, made headlines (add MI Public Radio link) because the academy, as the city’s dedicated high school to pregnant teens and moms, was closing because of lack of enrollment and funding. When examining a document produced by the state of Michigan listing all closed charters in the state, other reasons for charter schools closing include: poor academics, reorganization, lack of governance, leadership viability, the contract not being renewed, or the authority of an authorizer being revoked.

Despite charter schools closing for a variety of reasons, the 2014 Detroit Free Press report on charter schools shows that many authorizers leave poor performing schools open for a number of years. The focus of the DFP’s particular report was on schools authorized by Central Michigan University, and it highlighted how during a spot check of seven different charter schools during the 2012-13 academic year five were reauthorized despite a history of poor academic progress.

Below are individual maps for each charter school authorizer in the state that had schools operating during the 2013-14 academic year in Southeastern Michigan. As noted early on in this post, majority of the charter schools in the region were concentrated in Detroit, with Grand Valley State University being the largest authorizer in the Detroit.

Central Michigan University was the largest authorizer regionally, and throughout the state. Charter schools authorized by regional education services authorities (Wayne County) , an intermediate school district (Macomb and Washtenaw counties) or a city based educational authority (Highland Park, Detroit) remain only in that particular county/municipality. The charter schools authorized by public universities and community colleges, however, can stretch across counties.

Bay Mills CC Charter Schools in Southeastern Michigan Northern Michigan University Charter Schools in Southeastern Michigan Oakland University Charter Schools in Southeastern Michigan Saginaw Valley State University Charter Schools in Southeastern Michigan Wayne RESA Charter Schools in Southeastern Michigan

Charter schools were created as a means to provide additional educational choices to students. While the number of charter schools has increasingly grown throughout the state of Michigan and regionally (particularly after the cap for the number of charter schools a university can authorize was removed in 2011) the question on what type of choice these charter schools bring remains. Throughout this post we already saw schools are both shut down and kept open, despite poor academic performances. The Detroit Free Press series referenced in this post discusses charter schools’ lack of accountability, despite the fact they use public dollars to operate. Next week, we will look into the academic performances of Southeastern Michigan’s charter school authorizers and how these performances are associated with certain socioeconomic backgrounds.

Veterans in SE Michigan tend to fare better with income and employment

Last week we examined where veterans live throughout the seven-county region of Southeastern Michigan and this week we take a deeper look into the socioeconomic picture for the region’s veterans. Overall, we see that veterans in the region in 2013 tended to have a higher median income level than non-veterans. Also we see that a lower percentage of veterans in the area fell under the poverty line in 2013 than non-veterans. Unemployment status for veterans throughout the region, however, varied.

This data presented in the maps below is from the 2013 American Community Survey.

When looking at median income in Southeastern Michigan at the municipal level, we see that it tended to be higher for veterans than it was for non-veterans. Municipalities such as Bloomfield Hills, Orchard Lake, and Lake Angelus – all of which have higher median income levels than the region as a whole (link to post) – also had higher veteran median income levels than a city such as Highland Park, for example, which has low median income levels.

It should be noted, however, that veterans make up a smaller portion of the population than non-veterans, and as a result, sample size may have had an influence on these numbers.

The unemployment rate among veterans varied much more than it does among non-veterans. The rate among veterans varied from 0.6 percent to 43.4 percent For non-veterans, it ranges from 2.2 percent to in 34.4 percent The locations with high unemployment also varied significantly between veterans and non-veterans, with 12 locations across five counties having over 25 percent unemployment among veterans – rates that were only seen in Detroit and Highland Park among non-veterans.

A lower percentage of veterans were below poverty status, compared to non-veterans throughout Southeastern Michigan. For both veterans and non-veterans, Highland Park had the highest percentage of residents below the poverty line: 46.2 percent of non-veterans and 25.2 percent of veterans. Only two other municipalities had more than 21.5 percent of veterans living below the poverty line: Chelsea (37.9%) and Hazel Park (27.7%). Clyde Township (0.2%) had the lowest percentage of veterans living below the poverty line.

While there were only three municipalities with 21.5 percent or more of veterans living below the poverty line, there were nine municipalities throughout the region where 21.5 percent or more of the non-veteran population was living below the poverty line. Such municipalities included Ecorse, Detroit, Pontiac, Ypsilanti and Port Huron.

Overall we see that while veterans appeared to fare better than non-veterans in terms of income and poverty status, and in some cases employment.

St. Clair County home to largest percentage of veterans in SE Michigan

Next weekend is the Fourth of July, so it’s a good to seek understanding of the veterans in Southeastern Michigan. The map below shows veterans as a percentage of the civilian population in the seven-county region in 2013. According to American Community Survey (ACS) five-year estimates, at the county level, St. Clair County had the highest percentage of veterans in 2013 (10.2%) while Washtenaw County had the lowest (6.1%). Broken down by municipality, the highest percentage of veterans were found in Lake Angelus in Oakland County (16.6%) and the lowest in Hamtramck in Wayne County (2.9%).

Nationally, veterans make up about 9.0 percent of the civilian population over 18. Michigan is average in this regard – veterans make up about 8.9 percent of the civilian population over 18 in the state.

In addition to recording whether or not a respondent served in the armed forces, the ACS further notes what era they served, with data available for five specific time periods: Gulf War II (defined as September 2001 and later), Gulf War I (August 1990 to August 2001), Vietnam War (August 1964 through April 1975), Korean War (September 1950 through January 1955), and World War II (December 1941 to December 1946).

For the state of Michigan as a whole, those who served during Gulf War II make up 7.1 percent of the total veteran population, those who served during Gulf War I make up 12.5 percent, Vietnam veterans make up 36.5 percent, Korean War veterans make up 12.1 percent, and those who served during WWII comprise 9.7 percent of veterans. (This does not add up to 100%, since there are many others who served outside of these specific time periods.) The maps below show the percentage of the veteran population by municipality who served in these various conflicts.


According to National ACS 5-year estimates (2013), there was an adult civilian population of 236.5 million (adult meaning 18 years and over, civilian excluding active-duty service members et al.), and of that, 21.2 million were veterans = ~8.96%.

According to ACS 5-year estimates for the state of Michigan (2013), there was an adult civilian population of 7,577,743, of which 672,213 were veterans = ~8.87%.

Below is a chart listing the municipality in each county from which the highest percentage of the veterans served during each conflict. The percentages are of the total veteran population in that municipality for the period of conflict it is listed in.

One item of note is that although Hamtramck had the lowest percentage of veterans in their population, it had the highest percentage of Gulf War I veterans in Wayne County. This may be a product of refugees from Gulf countries that participated in that war. Similarly, although Washtenaw County as a whole has a low percentage of vets, Chelsea has a high percentage – with nearly half of all Chelsea veterans serving during either World War II or the most recent conflicts in the Middle East. Other clusters with a high percentage of vets across all eras include Memphis (St. Clair/Macomb counties) and the Orchard Lake/Sylvan Lake/Lake Angelus area of Oakland County.

The data presented in this post can be useful when planning specific outreach programs for veterans based on age or time period of service.

WSJ: 28 percent of Wayne County homes are worth less than their mortgage balance

The Wall Street Journal recently posted an interactive map that shows the percentage of homes in counties across the nation that were worth less than what was owed on them during the first quarter of 2015. Here, we see that in Wayne County 28 percent of homes were worth less than the mortgage balance on them. In Oakland County that number was 13 percent and in Macomb County 17 percent of homes were worth less than what is owed on them.