A Closer Look at Barriers for Detroit’s Workforce

To understand Detroit’s workforce you must also understand the barriers people have in obtaining employment and business ownership. Of the respondents to the 2021 Detroit Citizen Survey, 42 percent (240 respondents) reported being fully employed, 11 percent reported being employed part-time (64 respondents) and about 35 percent (200 respondents) reported not being employed or looking for work. Furthermore, of the 11 percent who were unemployed but looking for work (62 respondents) only 41 percent were receiving unemployment. This Detroit unemployment level is over twice the statewide rate.

Of the people looking for unemployment, 60 said they were facing barriers. These barriers included available jobs, transportation, education/training and child care.

While there are barriers to jobs, there are also barriers to wealth. Of the 525 respondents who reported barriers to building wealth, 2,025 barriers were collectively checked off. The most common barrier reported was auto insurance that was too high, selected by over 77 percent of respondents (406 people). Additionally, 48 percent of respondents (251) reported a low paying job or little access to better paying jobs, and about two-fifths indicated not being well-informed about personal financing. Furthermore, about two-fifths indicated paying off credit cards as a barrier, and over one-third each cited bad credit, health care costs and student loans.

Finally, business ownership is one means of building wealth and maintaining employment. Of the respondents, about 27 percent own their own business (84) and less than 38 percent of those respondents (32) reported having access to capital to run/build their business.

Building a strong economy and stable workforce is dependent on several factors, such as equal education opportunities, support of the potential workforce–which includes access to capital funding and childcare and everything in between–reliable transportation, and the availability of jobs, especially ones with a living wage. In order to build a stronger community we must first understand the barriers that exist in getting there. The 2021 Detroit Citizen Survey has provided vital insight into understanding the needs and concerns of the community and what issues must be addressed to ensure future success.

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