From 1990 to 2011 the unemployed number of civilians living in the Detroit region tracks (though at a lower level) the number of people living in Wayne County. While the trend line is almost identical, unemployment numbers in Wayne County were higher than the Detroit region in more recent years. This is because the Detroit region, as defined by the Census, includes much of Wayne County. For example, in 2011, the number of unemployed in the Detroit region was 103,348 whereas the number of unemployed in Wayne County was 105,659. Unemployment numbers for the Detroit region consistently remained higher than those in Oakland and Macomb counties, reflecting the larger population, but also greater numbers of unemployed.
The graphs of both the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate show that unemployment was at an all-time low in 1944. This was in the midst of World War II. The number reached the 2 million mark two years after the war ended and the numbers have never gone below the 1 million mark since 1944. In recent decades, the lowest number of unemployed citizens was in 2000 with 5.7 million unemployed people. The highest number was 14.9 million in 2010.
All three counties experienced unemployment highs and lows during the same year. The year with the highest number of unemployed civilians in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties was in 2009. Wayne County consistently had higher numbers of unemployed civilians, reflective of both its larger population and higher unemployment rate.
Check out this info graphic published in the Detroit Free Press on April 15, 2012 about the slow demolition pace in Detroit and its affect on students, particularly those in the Cody, Denby, and Osborn high school areas.
While employment continued on an upward trend in the U.S., the number of employed Michigan residents has not followed suit. The gap between the highs and lows of employed residents in Michigan are more extreme, with the highest number occurring in the year 2000. Since then, Michigan has experienced unprecedented job losses, although this has begun abating over the past two years. The population in the State of Michigan must also be taken into consideration. Within the last 30 years, 1982 marks the lowest number of employed residents in Michigan; the population of the state was at about 9.1 million then. According to a Jan. 20, 2009 New York Times article by David Leonhardt, this trend, that is also represented at the national level, is due to higher Federal interest rates that led to inflation and the increase in oil prices that was sparked by the Iran Revolution in 1979.
From 1970 to 1990 the number of employed in Wayne County continued in a downward trend, as did the population. The data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Wayne County had a population of 2.7 million in 1970 and the above data shows employment was at about 1.27 million; by 1990 the population fell to about 2.1 million and employment was at about 976,000. That downward trend slightly leveled off from 1990 to 2000 though; the employment in 2000 for Wayne County was documented at about 970,000 and the population was about 2 million. This means the number of employed was about 6,000 less in 2000 than in 1990, but as employment was still declining in the county the state and country were experiencing a spike of employment in 2000. Following the year 2000 the county experienced its all time low of employed residents, following the economic downfall that was affecting everyone in the U.S., especially Michigan and the Detroit area. In 2010 Wayne County’s employment was documented at about 661,000.
The decline of employed people for the City of Detroit has been much steeper than what’s been experienced at the county, state and national level. Despite the short lived increase of employment in 2000 Detroit’s numbers have been continuously declining over the past four decades, as has the population. The employment to total population ratio for the city was 49% in 1970, by 2010 that number dropped to 28% The employment numbers continued to decrease as major Detroit employers, such as government offices, laid employees off and the city’s population fled elsewhere. Information describing Detroit’s declining population can be found in an earlier post here.
Despite layoffs by government related employers such as the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools and local federal government agencies, these three major employer categories continue to represent three of the city’s top five employers. The Detroit Medical Center, which is made up of six hospitals, is the city’s third largest employer while Henry Ford Health is the fourth. While these five major employer categories hold the top spots for employment in the city not all employees are Detroit residents. However, DMC, Henry Ford and Wayne State have all recently been part of initiatives to provide incentives to employees willing to move to the city.
The percent of population employed in and throughout Michigan remained lower than the national average in 2010. While the percent of the population employed in the U.S. was about 59% in 2010 that number was about 20 percentage points lower in Detroit while the state was only about 4 percentage points lower. Detroit’s employment levels have been documented as much lower than those at the county, regional, state, and national level. The employment to population ratio was calculated by taking the number of people in the civilian labor force and dividing it by the civilian non-institutional population. The civilian labor force is made up of those 16 years old or older who are employed or searching for a job and are not in the military or institutionalized.
Although the population in Wayne County has always remained higher than the other two counties–Oakland and Macomb–that make up the Metro-Detroit area, Wayne County has seen its population decline while the opposite has happened for the other two. The population increase in Oakland and Macomb counties began around 1970, the same time Wayne County began to lose its population. Since then Oakland and Macomb have seen a slow, but steady population growth, while Wayne County’s population has been decreasing since 1950. While Wayne County has lost about 240,000 residents in the last decade, according to Census data, Oakland County has only gained about 53,000 residents and Macomb County has gained about 8,000. Much of the loss of Wayne County residents was to other states because of the economy, according to information provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The department does describe though how rates of migration to other states decreased from 2009-10, particularly for ages 1-29, 35-59, and those 75 and up.
Aside from about a four year population decline from 1979 to 1983 Michigan’s population continued to rapidly grow until about 2005. Since that year the state has lost about 200,000 residents; it appears the population started to level off again in 2011 though. However, that number is still not near the state’s population peak from six and seven years ago.