Union Membership in Michigan Increases

  • The unemployment rate increased at the state level, minimally, and decreased in Detroit (monthly);
  • Union membership in Michigan increased between 2016-2017;
  • Regionally, Washtenaw County’s unemployment rate was the lowest;
  • Housing prices slightly decreased from November to December.

In February of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 5.2, a slight decrease from the January unemployment rate of 5.3, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for February was 0.1 point below what it was in February of 2017.

The Detroit rate was 2.5 points lower in February of 2018 than in February of 2017. In February of 2018 Detroit’s unemployment rate was reported to be 9.5, this was 0.4 points lower than the month before.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for February of 2017 and 2018. St. Clair County had the highest unemployment rates for both 2017 and 2018 (6.4 and 5.7 percent, respectively). Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rates in 2017 and 2018 during the month of February; Oakland County also had the lowest unemployment rate in the region in 2018. In February 2018 the Washtenaw County and Oakland County unemployment rates were 3.6. In 2017, the unemployment rate in Washtenaw County was also 3.6, meaning there was no change from one year to the next. Monroe County’s unemployment rate also remained unchanged between 2017 and 2018; for both years it was reported to be 5.3.

Wayne and St. Clair counties were the only two in the region with unemployment rates above at or above 5.5 in February of 2018. These two counties also had the largest unemployment decreases between February of 2017 and February of 2018. The decrease was 0.7 for both counties. All counties experienced a decrease in unemployment rates, except for those where the rates remained unchanged.

The percentage of the employed workforce with membership in a union increased between 2016 and 2017 in the State of Michigan, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the data, 15.6 percent of the employed workforce were members of a union in 2017; in 2016 that number was 14.4. With 15.6 percent of the employed workforce being members of a union, that equated to 658,000 employees; in 2016 606,000 employees were members of a union.

While the total number of union members has fluctuated over the last five years, there has been a significant decrease in the total number of union members since 2007. In 2007, according to the data, there were 819,000 union members, and by 2017 that number decreased to 658,000. The total percentage of the employed workforce that were members of a union was 19.5 percent in 2007. Again, the percentage that was members in 2017 was 15.6.

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

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $117,340 in December 2017; this was $210 lower than the average family dwelling price in November. The December 2017 price was an increase of $7,220 from December of 2016 and an increase of $13,570 from December of 2015 and an increase of $20,360 from December of 2014.

By the Numbers: Michigan Concealed Pistol Licenses

Wayne County has the largest number of Concealed Pistol Licenses (CPLs) in the state, according to the Michigan State Police, but on a per 100 residents (21 years of age or older) it ranks 67 of the State’s 83 counties. According to the data, as of April 2, 2018 there were 109,464 approved CPLs in Wayne County There were 1,254,878 Wayne County residents aged 21 and older. On a per capita basis for the 21 and older population Wayne had 8.72 CPLs issued per 100 residents 21 years of age and older. Keweenaw County, the northernmost county in Michigan, with 15.09 CPLs per 100 residents (21 or older) had the highest rate in the state.

CPLs are limited to those 21 years of age or older, which is why that age was used as the threshold for the per capita maps in this post.

Of the 83 counties in Michigan, the following had the highest number of issued CPLs in the State as of April 2, 2018:

  • Wayne County: 109461
  • Oakland County: 76634
  • Macomb County: 60064
  • Genesee County: 28564
  • Kent County: 23176
  • Livingston County: 16379
  • Washtenaw County: 14543
  • Ottawa County: 14281
  • Clair County: 12897
  • Monroe County: 12389

Of the 10 counties listed above, 9 of them are also on the top 10 list of counties with the highest populations in the State. Accordingly, Wayne, Oakland Macomb counties have the highest populations and the highest number of approved CPLs, respectively.

Below, is a list of the top 10 counties with the highest number of CPLs per 100 residents 21 years of age or older. This list, and corresponding map, shows a more accurate representation of which counties have among the highest percentage of residents with CPLs.

  • Keweenaw County: 15.09
  • Alcona County: 14.34
  • Lapeer County: 13.95
  • Montmorency County: 13.83
  • Luce County: 13.49
  • Dickinson County: 13.22
  • Alger County: 12.92
  • Kalkaska County: 12.9
  • Livingston County: 12.83
  • Missaukee County: 12.55

As the map and list above demonstrates, none of the counties with the highest per capita number of CPLs are located in Southeastern Michigan, with the exception of Livingston County. Four the counties in the above list are located in the Upper Peninsula and another four are located in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. Wayne and Oakland counties are in the second lowest tier for the number of CPLs issued per 100 residents age 21 and older. In Wayne County there were 8.72 CPLs issued per 100 residents 21 years of age and older as of April 2, 2018; in Oakland County there were 8.81 CPLs issued per 100 residents 21 years of age and older and in Macomb County there were 9.86. The county with the lowest number of CPLs issued per 100 residents 21 years of age and older was Kent County at 5.65.

In 2016 County Gun Boards were eliminated; these bodies had the power to deny an individual a CPL if the license was deemed detrimental to the applicant or others. Now, County Clerks and the Michigan State Police process concealed weapon applications. The data used for this post is from the Michigan State Police.

 

Majority of Medical Marijuana Shops Close Throughout Detroit

More than 200 medical marijuana caregiver centers have closed throughout the State of Michigan in the last several weeks, the majority of those being located in Detroit. According to data provided by the City of Detroit, as of March 23, 194 medical marijuana caregiver centers have closed in the City in 2018. Of these, 159 of medical marijuana caregiver centers closed between March 15 and March 29; these centers closed following cease and desist letters sent by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) due to the fact they didn’t apply for licensing through the state. Centers had been allowed to stay open through an emergency rule that was issued in December stating, if the business had approval from the municipality it was located in and applied for the required LARA license. According to multiple media sources, the letters sent by LARA to the 200 plus medical marijuana caregiver centers stated if the centers did not close they would be at risk of not being able to obtain future licensing and/or face consequences from law enforcement.

Currently in Detroit there is a moratorium on new medical marijuana caregiver facilities opening; it went into affect on Feb. 13 and will last for at least six months. Despite the moratorium and closings there are still medical marijuana caregiver centers in Detroit. The first map below shows where all the medical marijuana caregiver centers in Detroit (368) are or were located, including those that have been closed in 2018, and those that are still operating and/or seeking licensing (57 still operating and/or seeking approval and 98 simply seeking approval). While the centers are spread out throughout the City, there were certainly areas with higher concentrations of the centers. For example, right along the northern border of Detroit, 8 Mile Road, there were about 55 medical marijuana caregiver centers. Gratiot Avenue is also heavily lined with medical marijuana caregivers. While majority of centers, both open and closed, are located north of Detroit’s downtown, there are a handful in Detroit’s inner core.

The second map shows the 194 medical marijuana centers that have been closed in 2018. As stated, that is 194 out of 368 in the City (the 368 includes those that are operating, those that are seeking approval and those that are closed). The centers that have closed in the City are not concentrated in specific neighborhood.

There are 13 medical caregiver facilities in the City (shown in the map below) that are operating the closest to compliance as possible, within the expectations of local and state laws, because they have received zoning approval from the City of Detroit and have applied for the emergency licensing described above. According to two initiatives passed on Nov. 7, 2017 in Detroit the Zoning Board of Appeals does not have the authority to review dispensary applications and allows these businesses within 500 feet of several organizations, including religious institutions and other dispensaries. The City has since challenged these initiatives, further confusing the legal operation of medical marijuana caregiver facilities in the City, and the zoning regulations related to them.

In addition to Michigan Medical Cannabis Commission medical marijuana caregiver facilities and those that have closed, there are also the ones that are in the approval process and ones that are in the approval process and still operating. The first map below shows that there are 57 medical marijuana caregiver facilities and/or currently operating in the City of Detroit. While the City of Detroit doesn’t detail what “and/or still operating means,” it is likely related to the facilities that applied for emergency licensing to remain open during the time their new licensing through the state was being reviewed. In addition to the 57 facilities that are seeking licensing and/or still operating, there are an additional 98 medical marijuana caregiver facilities (second map below) seeking approval from the City and the State that are not operating.

In traversing through this issue for this post, it is evident there is still plenty of work to be done at the local and state level to eliminate confusion and allow medical marijuana caregiver facilities to operate legitimately. Like Detroit, other local governments are also trying to navigate through state and local regulations. For example, in Ann Arbor new zoning regulations were approved by the City Council in February. Zoning for four dispensaries in Ann Arbor was then approved, while decisions on two others were delayed. Local officials there too are still learning how to adjust.

Higher Income Households Moving Into Select Neighborhoods in Detroit

The map below is one of the most striking we have produced recently in that it shows the clear concentration of higher income households moving into a relatively narrow range of neighborhoods near Downtown, east along Jefferson and north along Woodward.

It also shows that, with a few exceptions, many of the highest median income Census Tracts in the City of Detroit have amongst the newest homeowners. For example, majority of the Census Tracts along the Detroit River and bordering the Downtown and newer developed areas in the City have median incomes between about $69,000 and $132,000, and the average year of property purchase ranges between 2003 and 2012. The data used in this post is from the 2016 American Community Survey, thus these higher income tracts have an average length of residency between four and 13 years. In the map below, which highlights the average length of homeownership and median income, the earliest average year of homeownership for any one Census Tract is 1980.

Throughout the City’s most eastern and western Census Tracts the median incomes range between about $10,000 and $46,000, the lower two income brackets on the map, but the range of median move in date of homeowners is wide. For example, on the most western side of Detroit, average year of homeowner residency ranges between 1997 and 2012, with the average median income being between about $32,000 and $46,000. As you move further east, toward the central area of the City, the average length of homeownership increases and the average median income, those being in the lower half of the overall range, remains the same. There are of course some exceptions. For example, in the Palmer Park area the average median income ranges between about $70,000 and $132,000 in the Census Tracts and the average year in which a homeowner purchased a property ranges between 1991 and 1996. In Southwest Detroit, homeowners, on average, purchased their properties in 1991 or later, and the majority of the Census Tracts in that area have homeowners with median incomes ranging between $32,000 and $46,000. The Corktown Census Tract does have the same average length of homeownership, but the residents there tend to have higher incomes. Moving east beyond the central area of the Detroit we see similar patterns to the western area of the City. The longest average length of homeownership is located farther from the eastern border of the City, and the most eastern Census Tracts have some of the most recent average years of purchase.

The overall message of the homeownership map is that the Census Tracts with the highest median incomes tend to have some of the City’s newest homeowners, as do some of the City’s Census Tracts with the lowest average median incomes. This paints several pictures, the first being that neighborhoods near, north and east of Downtown are attracting those with median incomes more than two times higher than the overall median income for the City of Detroit ($26,000). Another picture could be that many people with low and moderate median incomes have also had some opportunities to purchase homes, however these homes are located on the outskirts of the City. Or citizens with relatively low incomes are buying homes that were foreclosed upon in the 2008 recession. Finally, the Census Tracts with lowest longest average length of homeownership also tend to have residents with among the lowest median incomes. This could be due to the fact that these homeowners are now retired and living off of Social Security, pensions or other forms of retirement based incomes. This is consistent with our prior posts on the distribution of households receiving government and pension payments.

The map that displays the median income and average length of residency at a property for renters is much different than the homeownership map. As would be expected, the average length of residency for a rental tenant in a particular property is much shorter than that of a homeowner. The earliest average year of renter tenancy for a Census Tract in the City is 2001. There are only three Census Tracts in the City where the average year a renter moved into a property is between 2001 and 2003; the median incomes for these Census Tracts tops out at about $32,000. Overall, the top median income for the renter map tops out at $52,000, furthering the conversation that renters tend to have lower incomes. The west side of the City had the highest concentration of newest tenants (average length of renter tenancy ranging between 2012 and 2014) with majority of the median incomes ranging between $9,000 and $23,000.

The renter map shows that, overall, those who rent tend to have lower median incomes than those who purchase homes and also do not have a tendency to remain in one location for long periods of time.

Overall, this post highlights how those with median incomes more than double the City’s median income are purchasing properties in developing areas of Detroit. However, those with among the lowest median incomes in the City either rent and move around every few years or have owned and remained in their home for well over 30 years.

 

Detroit’s Outer Most Neighborhoods Have Lowest Percentage of Long-Term Homeowners

Of the about 600 Census Tracts in the City of Detroit about 75 of them have more than 40 percent of the residents who have owned their home since 1979 or earlier, according to the most recent data from U.S. Census Bureau. These Census Tracts are primarily located just west of Highland Park, but not in the City’s most westward neighborhoods. There are also several Census Tracts with a high percentage of long-term homeowners just east of Hamtramck. Again though, these neighborhoods don’t extend to the most eastern parts of the City. Homeownership in the Census tracts along the City’s borders primarily peaked between 1990 and 1999, with between 20 and 43 percent of the homeowners in those Census tracts having owned their homes since that decade. Between 2000 and 2009 there was about a handful of Census tracts where between about 50 and 80 percent of homeowners moved in during that decade. One of those Census tracts is located in Southwest Detroit right along the Detroit River. There is also about a handful of Census tracts with 10-25 percent of homeowners having just purchased their home since 2015. The Census Tracts are located in the Corktown, Midtown, North End, Palmer Park and West Village areas, all areas experiencing improvement in housing quality and investment.

There are large areas of Detroit’s outer neighborhoods where large shares of the renters have moved in since 2010. Detroit’s most eastern and western neighborhoods have among the highest percentage of renters who moved into those areas between 2010 and 2014. The City Airport/Kettering neighborhood areas have majority of renters residing in those areas since the early 2000s. The “Poletown” neighborhood just south of Hamtramck has the highest percentage of recent home renters between 2010 and 2014. Higher percentage of recent renters can arguably be attributed to three trends, the first being the increase of people moving into Detroit’s re-developing neighborhoods (Downtown, Midtown, New Center, the West Village-in these areas between 60-90 percent of renters have been there since 2010). The second trend may be the movement of lower income individuals due to evictions and/or inability to afford long-term housing options. The third trend, frequently mentioned by property inspectors and others, is families forced by eviction to become renters of the homes they formerly owned. There are only two Census Tracts in Detroit where more than 20 percent of residents have been renting since 1979 or earlier, one is located just north of Hamtramck, and the other is located near the Woodbridge area. In the vast majority of City Census Tracts it is rare to find substantial percentages of renters remaining in one spot for longer than 35 plus years.

Overall, the data in this post shows that City’s outermost neighborhoods have the lowest percentage of long-term homeowners, and instead higher percentages of recent renters. Next week we will look at how income plays a role in homeowner and rental markets in Detroit.

 

Number of Robots Increasing, But Not Unemployment Rates

The data we’ve presented on robots in Michigan are clear. Their numbers are increasing. And the interpretation of those numbers by some economists are also clear. A recent Detroit Free Press article, on a Brookings study says that M.I.T and Boston University researchers currently estimate that the addition of one robot per 1,000 workers leads to the unemployment of up to six workers. So, unemployment might be going up as robots increase? But no.

While the number of industrial robots in use has increased throughout the State of Michigan between 2010 and 2015 the unemployment rates for the affected Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA) have not. For example, in the Battle Creek MSA the Brookings Institute Analysis of International Federation of Robotics Data found there were about 17 industrial robots per 1,000 workers in 2015, this equated to a total of about 840 industrial robots in use in the Battle Creek area in 2015. Also, in 2015 the unemployment rate for the Battle Creek MSA was 5.1 and in 2010 the unemployment rate for that area was 11.7. A substantial decrease.

In the Detroit Metropolitan area, the number of industrial robots in use has nearly tripled since from 5,752 in 2010 to 15,115 in 2015. If each robot is worth more than one job as the economist projects, then that would mean a lot of unemployed people. But the unemployment rate fell from 13.9 in 2010 to 5.9 in 2015. According to the Michigan Department of Management, Technology and Budget none of the State’s 14
MSA’s experienced an increase in the unemployment rates between 2010 and 2015. So, more robots, but a decrease in unemployment? Well, maybe, but some might say we’re mixing up a macro trend—the overall
expansion of the economy since the 2008 recession—with a more micro process—the increase in the number of robots, which would not have so large an effect as to decrease overall unemployment. There still might be an effect, but at a lower level. And it might be consistent with recent findings from University of
Michigan economists who are indicating that the expansion has brought back only about 73 percent of the jobs lost in the recession.

Where are the other 27 percent? Robots and offshore, perhaps?

 

 

Industrial Robot Use Concentrated in Michigan, Auto Industry

The number of industrial robots used throughout Michigan increased by 14,785 between 2010 and 2015, according to the Brookings Analysis of International Federation of Robotics Data. In 2015 there were about 24,000 industrial robots in being used, according to the data set, an increase from the about 10,000 being used in 2010. According to the Brookings data set, the auto industry utilized the highest number of industrial robots at a total of about 233,000 throughout the U.S. in 2015. With Michigan being the automotive capital of the country it should come as no surprise that the state had the highest concentration of industrial robots in 2015. According to the data set, 12 percent of the industrial robots in use in 2015 were concentrated in Michigan; 8.7 percent of the nation’s total of industrial robots were concentrated in Ohio in 2015 and 8.3 percent were concentrated in Indiana.

When examining the data at the local level, it shows that the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan area had the highest number of industrial robots in both 2010 and 2015. In 2010 there were 5,753 industrial robots being utilized in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan area and in 2015 that number increased to 15,115. Followed by the Detroit Metropolitan area, the Grand Rapids Metropolitan area had the second highest number of industrial robots being utilized in the state, according the data set. In 2010, there were 1,091 industrial robots being used and by 2015 that number increased to 3,102.

While the Detroit Metropolitan area had the highest number of industrial robots, it was the Battle Creek Metropolitan area that had the highest number of robots per 1,000 workers in 2015. According to the data, the Battle Creek Metropolitan area had about 17 robots per 1,000 workers while the Detroit Metropolitan area had 8.5 industrial robots per 1,000 workers. The Jackson Metropolitan area had 8.8 industrial robots per 1,000 workers in 2015, according to the data set.

Next week we will explore how industrial robots correlate to unemployment rates in Michigan.

Detroit Has Highest Number of Confirmed Hepatitis A Cases from Outbreak

A Hepatitis A outbreak has been ravaging through Southeastern Michigan since August of 2016, according to information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has data on the number of confirmed cases of Hepatitis A from Aug. 1, 2016 to Feb. 20, 2018; this data is broken down at the county level, with the City of Detroit also being included. A closer look at draft summary data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows that the number of confirmed outbreak related cases really started to increase in July of 2017.

The Hepatitis A disease is a liver infection that is spread person-to-person. An individual can contract Hepatitis A from contaminated food or drink of from contact with an infected individual. Since the outbreak struck the Metro-Detroit area there have been numerous news stories related to individuals infected with Hepatitis A working at different restaurants. Attention to these situations has been part of the public outreach process not only to inform individuals about potential contamination if they ate at a restaurant with a confirmed Hepatitis A case, but to also raise awareness about the regional outbreak to all citizens.

 

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services states that there is no common source of food, beverage or drug identified as the potential source of infection. The Department also states that transmission appears to be through illicit drug use with direct person-to-person contact; those with a history of drug use, incarceration, transient housing and/or homelessness appear to be at the highest risk.

According to the data, Macomb County has had the highest number of confirmed cases since Aug. 1, 2016 at 211. The City of Detroit came in second with a total of 161 confirmed Hepatitis A cases between Aug. 1, 2016 and Feb. 20, 2018. In Wayne County there were 132 confirmed cases. Throughout the state there have been 760 confirmed Hepatitis A cases since Aug. 1, 2016, 615 of which have resulted in hospitalization and 25 of which have resulted in death. The number of confirmed cases in Macomb County makes up 28 percent of the total confirmed cases in Michigan and the number of confirmed cases in Detroit makes up 21 percent. The only other county in the state to have more than 100 confirmed Hepatitis A cases since Aug. 1, 2016 was Oakland County; according to the data there was 103 confirmed cases.

 

In addition to the data highlighting how the Hepatitis A outbreak is concentrated in the tri-county region, the data also shows that the median age of those infected with Hepatitis A since Aug. 1, 2016 is 41 and 35 percent of those with a confirmed case of Hepatitis A are female.

 

February Economic Indicators: Unemployment Rates, Housing Costs Fairly Stable

 

  • The unemployment rate increased at the state and local levels(monthly);
  • Regionally, Washtenaw County’s unemployment rate was the lowest;
  • The number of demolitions in Detroit outweighed the number of building starts;
  • Housing prices remained flat.

In December of 2017 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.7, a slight increase from the November unemployment rate of 4.6, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for December was 0.3 points below what it was in December of 2016.

The Detroit rate was lower over the last year, but up for the most recently reported month. The City of Detroit unemployment rate was reported to be 1.1 points lower in December of 2017 than what it was reported at in December of 2016. For December 2017 the unemployment rate was reported at 8.7; in 2016 it was reported to be 9.8. Between November and December of 2017 though the unemployment rate for Detroit increased by 0.9 points.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for December of 2016 and 2017. Wayne County had the highest unemployment rates for both 2016 and 2017 (5.7 and 5.1 percent, respectively). Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rates in 2017 and 2016 during the month of December. In December 2017 the Washtenaw County employment rate was 3 and in 2016 it was 2.7. Additionally, in December of 2017, Washtenaw and Monroe counties were the only two in the region that had unemployment rates higher than in December of 2016.

Wayne and St. Clair counties were the only two in the region with unemployment rates above 4.5 percent in 2017.

St. Clair County had the largest unemployment rate decrease between December 2016 and 2017 at 0.8. In December of 2017 St. Clair County had a unemployment rate of 4.8, and in 2016 that rate was 5.6.

Oakland County had the highest number of housing starts in 2017, according to the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments, at 3,467. St. Clair County had the lowest number of housing starts in the region at 307, more than 3,000 less than Oakland County.

Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties had the highest number of housing starts in 2017; these counties also have the highest population numbers in the region. Additionally, all three counties have experienced growth in the number of housing permits being pulled since 2010. Macomb and Oakland counties did experience a dip of about 400 each in 2014, but numbers continued to grow after this.

Wayne County was the only one in the region that had a higher number of demolitions than housing starts. All but 206 of 3,415 demolitions occurred in the City of Detroit, according to SEMCOG. In total, there were 3,209 demolitions in Detroit in 2017 and 1,084 housing starts in the same year.

Below is a map of all the demolitions in Detroit between Jan. 1 and Feb. 22, 2018. So far this year there has been 176 demolitions in Detroit, according to the City’s open data portal. The map shows that the demolitions are now occurring outside of the downtown/Midtown areas and instead farther out into the City. Some of the heaviest concentrations of demolitions are occurring in the West Village area of the City and in the far northwest area.

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

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $117,550 in November 2017; this was $300 lower than the average family dwelling price in October. The November 2017 price was an increase of $8,230 from November of 2016 and an increase of $14,140 from November of 2015 and an increase of $20,260 from November of 2014.

Commute Times in Southeastern Michigan Slightly Increase

 

In all Southeastern Michigan communities more than 70 percent of residents with a job commuted to work by some mode of transportation, whether it be by vehicle or a mode of public transportation in 2016, according to U.S. Census data. In our sprawling region, where cars are king, suburban life has long dominated and road infrastructure is failing, it is no surprise that the average commute time for the region is 30 minutes. However, in 61 of the region’s communities more than 50 percent of commuters experienced a commute time above 30 minutes in 2016.

At the level of counties, Livingston County had the longest average commute time in 2016 at 32 minutes, followed by St. Clair County at 29 minutes. When considering individual communities, there were only three communities where the average commute time was above 40 minutes; these communities were: Berlin Township (40 minutes), Riley Township (41 minutes) and Emmett Township (41 minutes). All three of these communities are located in the more rural areas of the region.

As noted, the data for 2016 shows that 61 communities in Southeastern Michigan have more than 50 percent of commuters experiencing a commute above 30 minutes. Unadilla Township had the highest percent of residents experiencing more than a 30 minute commute at 75; the average commute time for residents in that township was 39 minutes. No city had an average commute time below 20 minutes, and the communities with the lowest commute times either had large employment hubs or were located very close to them. For example, in 2016 commuters in Ann Arbor had the lowest commute time at 20 minutes. Both the University of Michigan and University of Michigan Health Care System are located in Ann Arbor, a relatively compact city.

Between 2010 and 2016 the average percent of residents who commuted to work increased only slightly, by 0.3 percent. While this shows that the number of commuters on the road remained relatively the same between 2010 and 2016, other data shows that, arguably, congestion on the roads have increased. According to the data, the average commute time for residents in Southeastern Michigan increased by about two minutes.

There were 30 communities in the region though where the commute time increased by more than 10 minutes. Overall, there were 127 communities that experienced a percent change increase in average commute times between 2010 and 2016. The communities with the largest percent increase in average commute times between 2010 and 2016 were spread across the region, which could very well mean road congestion was increasing due to the region’s road system. For example, the City of Northville had the largest percent change increase in commute time between 2010 and 2016 at 31 percent. Northville is located near to I-275, I-696 and I-96 in the areas where these highways are often under construction and experience regular traffic backups due to congestion.

River Rouge had the second largest increase at 26 percent. Jefferson Avenue runs through River Rouge, but was not easily accessible in the city between 2013 and 2016 due to the Jefferson Bridge being closed. This traffic shift would have caused commuters in River Rouge, and other downriver communities, to have to utilize Fort Street and/or I-75 to commute, meaning there were additional vehicles on these alternate routes.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were 78 communities in the region where average commute times decreased between 2010 and 2016. Of those communities, 14 had a decrease in the average commute time by more than 10 minutes.

While construction and constricted road systems attribute to traffic congestion, so does the number of vehicles on the road. In Southeastern Michigan we know that there is no comprehensive regional transit system, and instead majority of commuters rely on driving themselves to and from work. A way to decrease traffic congestion is to create a reliable, connected regional transit system that residents would be able to utilize to get to and from work. Increased use in public transportation would decrease congestion, particularly at peak hours, and put less stress on our existing road infrastructure.