November reports for monthly economic indicators

•Unemployment rate decreases, while the number of employed increases (monthly)
•Purchasing manager’s index increases (monthly)
•Commodity price index decreases (monthly)
•Consumer price index remains above zero(bi-monthly)

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, the jobless rate for the month of September was at 18.1 percent in Detroit; it was at 9.3 percent for the state. While the state’s jobless rate remained steady between August and October, it decreased by 1.5 percent in Detroit between August and September. Please note the chart shows Michigan’s unemployment rate for the month of October, which was 9.1 percent, but no unemployment data for Detroit has been released for October.

The number of employed in the city of Detroit continues to rise. This trend began in July and has continued through September, with 4,075 more people being employed, according to the most recent data.

According to the most recent data released on South Eastern Michigan’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, the number increased about 8 points from September to October. The Purchasing Manger’s Index (PMI) is a composite index that is derived from five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories; a PMI above 50 means the economy is expanding. The PMI for October was 58.9 which according to the criteria, signifies that Southeast Michigan’s economy is expanding. The newest released PMI is .8 percent below the October, 2011 PMI.

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices for Southeast Michigan has fluctuated throughout 2012, but began to decrease in August. Most recently, the Commodity Price Index decreased from 60 in September to 51.5 in October. This is 15.2 points below where the Commodity Price Index was in October of 2011.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the change in prices in a fixed market. The measured prices are based on prices of “food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and the other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The CPI in the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint area, which is reported every two months, rose .5 percent from August to October, which is still higher than the June, 2012 recorded change, but lower than the 1.2 percent increase from June to August.

A higher price for food (a .6 percent increase) was noted for the increase. It was also noted there was a decrease in energy (a 1.8 percent decrease).

The CPI, minus the prices of energy and food, shown in the second graph above, reveals a much more stable line of increase. From April to October of 2012 the CPI has seen a cumulative 1.4 percent increase (.1 percent for April-June, .5 percent for June-August, and .8 percent for August-October). The BLS attributes the .8 percent increase for the August-October period to the rising price of shelter, clothing, recreation, education, and communication.

Michigan’s obesity rate on the rise

Obesity has been documented as a growing problem, not only in Michigan, but across the country. This post will examine the obesity rate for Michigan, particularly its increase over the past few years. According to the Center for Disease Control, a person is considered obese if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or above while a person is considered overweight if their BMI is between 25 and 29.9.

Michigan’s obesity rate was been increasing since 1990, according to America’s Health Rankings (part of the United Health Foundation). Since 1990 the obesity rate has increased 17.6%. The year 2011 was the highest with 31.7%; in 1990 it was documented at 14.1%.

Of the 11 Midwest states Michigan is ranked the highest for its obesity rate at 31 percent. Indiana is ranked second with an obesity rate at 30.8 percent,  and Missouri came in third at 30.3 percent.

Michigan’s obesity rate was been increasing since 1990, according to America’s Health Rankings (part of the United Health Foundation). Since 1990 the obesity rate has increased 17.6 percent. The year 2011 was the highest with 31.7 percent; in 1990 it was documented at 14.1 percent.

The above chart shows the number of documented conditions, often associated with obesity, in the year 2010.  Hypertension and arthritis had the highest number of document cases, both at 1.9 million; obesity related cancers was the lowest at 150,809.

The above chart shows the percentage of obese children and adolescents according to the most recent studies by various organizations. The 10-17 year old age range, which is the widest range presented in the chart, had the highest obesity rate at 30.6 percent in 2007.

The number of obese Michigan residents with diabetes increased from 1995 to 2007. Then, in 2007 it began to level out. In 1995 35.2 percent of those with diabetes were obese; by 2007 that number reached 58.3 percent, and in 2010 it was 57.7 percent.

In the future, we will examine data about obesity in Detroit and the suburbs.

The Detroit Incinerator and its emissions

In 1986, Detroit built the world’s largest municipal trash incinerator; it officially opened three years later, in 1989.  According to the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, the incinerator was considered by many politicians and residents as something that would attract new businesses to Detroit because at the time, incineration was considered the safest and most cost-effective way to dispose of trash (  Instead, the incinerator has been a controversial issue in Detroit politics over the past 20 years. According to and, the incinerator was able to be created through about $440 million in bonds that were issued for financing. It is said to burn about 2,800 tons of trash daily at a cost of about $150 per ton, according to to and,

The incinerator is located  near the intersection of the Chrysler and Edsel Ford Freeways (X marks the spot on the map); This is just outside Midtown Detroit, an area that has experienced a renaissance of new development and repopulation over the past few years.

The following table describes selected pollutants reported by facilities to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in 2010. The chart which follows depicts the share of the overall reported pollutants attributable to Detroit Renewable Power. The incinerator generated approximately 25% of all pollutants reported by the 56 facilities in Detroit, Michigan, that made reports to MDEQ. It was also responsible for 30% of the carbon monoxide, 41% of the nitrogen oxide and 16% of the sulfur dioxide reported to the MDEQ.

As can be seen in the next chart, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide make up the overwhelming majority of chemicals emitted from the incinerator. Other pollutants reported to the MDEQ include ammonia, particulate matter, lead, and volatile organic compounds.

According to the Great Detroit Resource Recovery website,  the incinerator is below their regulation limit for the various pollutants it produces. It should be noted though that is information is an average from 2004-2006 and and does not include carbon monoxide emissions.



Several Detroit environmental groups and residents have blamed the incinerator for Detroit’s high prevalence of asthma among children and adults.

We will examine this assertion more closely in a future post.

A deeper look at Michigan bridges

In this post bridges in Michigan will be examined. While the main focus is on the international border crossings, the chart below provides information on all the major waterway bridges in the state of Michigan. This is to give readers a comparison on the basic information so they can have a better understanding of size and location for the bridges examined later in the post.

The above graph shows that Detroit is the most commonly used port of the three international ports in Michigan. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the number of vehicles that travel through Detroit to or from Canada is over double the amount that travels through Port Huron and four times higher than through Sault Ste. Marie.

The above chart shows the U.S. to Canada traffic flow for the four international crossings in Michigan during the year 2011. The Ambassador Bridge, which is privately owned, has the highest average traffic flow, and the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge has the lowest. The 2011 traffic flow for the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge is estimated to be about 5,255,000 less than the Ambassador Bridge. The Blue Water Bridge had the second highest traffic flow in 2011 of about 5.1 million vehicles.

Not only did the Ambassador Bridge have the highest amount of traffic, it also has the highest toll cost at $4.75 per passenger vehicle. The Grosse Ile Toll Bridge, which is one of two bridges that connects Grosse Ile-which is an island of about 10,400 residents-to mainland Trenton, has the a lowest toll rate at $2 per trip. Like the Ambassador Bridge the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge is privately owned.

Although the Mackinac Bridge is the longest Michigan bridge, as shown in previous charts, it has less traffic and lower tolls than the international Ambassador and Blue Water Bridges. The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, which also does not receive as much traffic as the Ambassador Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge, is the second longest waterway bridge in the state.