Michigan Unemployment Numbers Soar Due to COVID-19

The number of unemployment claims in the state of Michigan has continued to climb as the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) has caused businesses to shutter in an effort to keep residents safe and to “flatten the curve.” Over the last several weeks Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued numerous executive orders forcing the closure of businesses, telling residents to stay home and allowing unemployment benefits to be expanded as a result of the increasing number of claims.

According to the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency there were 83,177 unemployment claims for all counties in Michigan for the week ending March 14, 2020. This number is for all claims, including continued and initial claims. By the following week, the number of unemployment claims increased to 207,048 for the week ending on March 21, 2020. In total, that was a week-over-week increase of about 123,000 claims. 

The three maps below show the total number of unemployment claims by county in Michigan for the weeks that end on March 14, 2020 and March 21, 2020 and the percent change in claims between those two weeks. All maps will show that Wayne County had the highest number of unemployment claims for both weeks at 15,901 and 40,025, respectively. 

The counties with the 10 highest number of unemployment claims in the last few weeks were: 

County Number of Claims Week Ending 3/14/2020 Number of Claims Week Ending 3/21/2020
Wayne County 15,901 40,025
Oakland County 7,810 23,799
Macomb County 7,596 22,542
Kent County 3,544 11,885
Genesee County 3,782 9,443
Washtenaw County 1,343 5,286
Ingham County 1,680 5,219
Ottawa County 1,386 4,666
Saginaw County 1,939 4,499
Kalamazoo County 1,487 4,341

While Wayne County had the highest number of unemployment claims, Washtenaw County had the largest percent change between both weeks at 294 percent (increase of 3,943 claims), followed by Ottawa County at 237 percent (increase of 3,280 claims) and then Kent County at 235 percent (increase of 8,341 claims). In Wayne County there was a percent increase of 152 between the two weeks, which was equivalent to an increase in 24,124 claims. For Oakland County there was a percent increase in unemployment claims of 205 percent (15,989 claims) and for Macomb County the percent increase was 197 percent (14,946 claims). 

With the Stay Home, Stay Safe order being issued by Gov. Whitmer on March 23, 2020 it is likely that unemployment claims in the State of Michigan will continue to increase. According to a recent article from Michigan Radio, the State of Michigan has a $4.6 billion trust fund to pay unemployment benefits and it has assured people that if they file for unemployment benefits they will be paid. 

Michigan Employment Ramifications from COVID-19

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer placed a three week stay-at-home order on the residents of Michigan to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). This order, along with other executed orders issued in the last week means restaurants are limited to takeout, casinos are shuttered and the Big 3 (Ford, GM and Chrysler-Fiat) all temporarily closed their manufacturing plants, along with hundreds of other businesses deemed non-essential. As the number of confirmed cases in Michigan continue to rise so do the concerns about economic stability. Staying home and social distancing are necessities at a time like this but businesses, and their employees, are grappling with how to stay afloat. Some have the ability to have their employees work from home, others can pay their workers for some period of time despite being closed, and many employees are left without knowing where their next paycheck will come from.

According to Bridge Magazine, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity reported about 108,000 unemployment claims as between March 16-20, 2020. The same agency reported that the average weekly unemployment claims during the height of the Great Recession peaked at about 90,000.

To provide a better glimpse as to how many people in Michigan may be economically impacted due to this global pandemic we have provided the most recent annual employment numbers from the State for occupations and industries that have been or are most likely to be impacted.

All the employment data in this post is from the Michigan Department of Management, Technology and Budget and focuses on Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in Michigan, which are areas with a dense population at its core and close economic ties to the surrounding areas in the region. Not all MSAs in this post had data to reflect the industries or occupations examined in this post. Additionally, some State totals may vary from the totals in the pie charts due to the fact not all MSAs had data and some areas, such in the Upper Peninsula, do not have an MSA but do still have employees in the various industries and occupations examined.

The chart below shows the number of employees in 2019 of the various industries and occupations that are arguably amongst the hardest hit due to COVID-19, whether it be from being forced to or from being overworked due to community needs (health care workers and grocery stores, who have been deemed essential employees by the governor).

In 2019, there were 672,000 people who declared manufacturing as their occupation; this was the highest number in the State of Michigan of those examined in this post; those declaring health care and social assistance as their occupation came in second at 606,900. The food preparations and serving industry came in third with 392,900 people employed in the State of Michigan.

In breaking the data down further, we look at the same industries and occupations (if data was available) for the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA. For just this area, the health care and social assistance occupation had the most number of employees at 288,300 in 2019, followed by manufacturing at 257,900. In the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA there were 169,500 people in the food preparation and serving industry.

The two pie charts below highlight what areas (MSAs) are likely to be impacted the most in terms of unemployment as a result of COVID-19 related closures. Food preparation and serving and manufacturing were the only two occupations with comprehensive data sets for 2019, and as both charts show, the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA had the highest number of employees (this is also the most densely populated area in the State). For food preparation and serving there were 169,950 employees in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA followed by the Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA with 45,140 employees. For manufacturing there were 257,900 employees in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn MSA in 2019 and 119,000 in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA.

As the snapshots above show, thousands of people are at risk of being unemployed for an unknown amount of time. And, as noted earlier, the number of unemployment claims continue to rise as a result of COVID-19 and the precautions being taken to “flatten the curve.” In 2019 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.1 percent, the lowest it has been since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. We certainly have a long way to go before unemployment rates reach what they were during the peak of the recession (14%) but with such a swift shift in employment for hundreds of thousands of people the possibility is certainly on the minds of many.

While the economic future of Michigan and the country is not exactly certain at this time, actions are being taken by federal and state officials to aid citizens. At the federal level officials are working to secure a coronavirus stimulus check for qualifying citizens and in Michigan Gov. Whitmer extended unemployment benefits, among other forms of support. For now, what we can do is adhere to the guidelines created by the Centers for Disease Control to “flatten the curve,” which include: remaining at home-especially when sick, keeping at least six feet away from others, washing your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, covering coughs and sneezes and regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces. Additionally, local businesses can be supported by: purchasing gift cards, donating to funds they may have created or are being supported through, ordering their products online or purchasing carry-out and writing your elected officials to find means to further support them through public policy decisions.

Southeast Michigan Children in Poverty

Those in poverty often experience food insecurity, including children. With schools across the State of Michigan closed for the next several weeks due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) it is important to understand which school districts have students at a higher risk of food insecurity while school is out.

Those in poverty often experience food insecurity, including children. With schools across the State of Michigan closed for the next several weeks due to the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) it is important to understand which school districts have students at a higher risk of food insecurity while school is out.

Highland Park School District Has Highest Percentage of Single Parents

In Southeastern Michigan there are 17 school districts with 50 percent or more of the households being run by a single parent. This is an important statistic as it can relate to the financial well-being of a family, which often correlates with a child’s access to quality education and educational and extra curricular opportunities. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017, 32 percent of parents were unmarried. Of the 110 public school districts in Southeastern Michigan 44 have 32 percent or more of households with a single parent.

The district with the highest percentage of single parents is the Highland Park School District where 83 percent of households with school-aged children have a single parent.  Highland Park School District also has the lowest median income for single mothers at $15,224, and, while the two are not mutually exclusive, it does provide insight into the economic and family backgrounds of many of the students in the district.  The district with the second highest percentage of single parents is the Ecorse Public School District at 74 percent; the median income for single mothers in that district is $16,108. Following the same pattern, Detroit Public Schools has the third highest percentage of single parents at 71 percent.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Garden City School District in Wayne County has the lowest percentage of households with a single parent at 8 percent. The next two districts with the lowest percentage of single parents were Milan and Saline public schools, both in Washtenaw County, at 10 percent. In Oakland County, Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham school districts have the highest median income for single mothers at just under $83,000, and the percentage of single parents in these districts is 16 percent for both.

As we’ve noted throughout this series, family income does often have an affect on the type of education a child receives, and this post highlights that while tying in how family background may also have an affect.

Funding for Michigan Arts Council Increasing, Far Below Pre-Recession Levels

Funding for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has increased nearly ten-told since 2011, but is still far below what it was prior to the Great Recession. Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is the state’s lead agency that develops art and culture policy and distributes grants to support such policies throughout the state. This state agency receives both federal and state funding, the federal funding of which is typically a match to state funding.

The first chart below reflects the total amount appropriated to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs from both the State and the federal government and the second chart shows how much has been allocated from just the State.

Overall, the total appropriation for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in fiscal year 2020 is $9.7 million. That amount has been the agency’s total annual allocation since 2015, except in 2018 and 2019 when the total appropriation amounts were $10.7 million. Since 1997 the highest total appropriation amount Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has received is $25.5 million in 2001. So, while state funding for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs has been increasing in recent years it is still at less than have of where it was at in the late 1990s.

According to budget data provided by the Michigan Arts Council the State of Michigan appropriated $10.1 million for the arts in fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and $9.1 million in 2020; $9.1 million was also appropriated between 2015 and 2017. However, in 2011 and 2012 the State appropriated $1.5 million to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. The federal government has consistently provided a grant to the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs for $1.05 million since at least 2011. When these funds are allocated from the federal government each year the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is expected to match, at the most, what has been allocated to them by the federal government.

The overall purpose of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is to promote civic engagement, economic development and educational opportunities. This agency has been able to do this by supporting field trips and classroom initiatives, providing funding to area government capital improvements, along with a host of other programs throughout the state. While this agency does infuse local governments and schools with access to arts and culture, it does not provide funding to the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The DIA is instead funded through a public millage (which is up for a 10 year renewal on March 10), an endowment fund, revenue through admissions and programs and donations.  

Median Income for Single Mothers Below Poverty Line in 29 Southeastern Michigan School Districts

Last week we examined the median income of families with school aged children by school district, and this week we examine the median income of single mothers with school aged children. The highest median income for a single mother in the Metro-Detroit region is in both Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham school districts; the median income for both these districts is just under $83,000. These median incomes are just under half of the highest median income for families with children, which is $184,289 in the Northville Public School District. Single mothers in the Northville Public School District have a median income of about $67,000.

As noted in last week’s post, the income of a parent, or parents, does affect the education of a child due to the access the family has to housing, resources and, ultimately, the school districts. While single mothers in districts such as  Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Berkley ($70,000) have a higher median income than the poverty threshold for a family of four ($25,750), access issues do still exist.

There is a higher risk of those issues existing in school districts such as Hamtramck, Highland Park, Detroit and Ecorse, where the median income for single mothers is below that of the federal poverty line for a family of four. The Hamtramck School District has the lowest median income for single mothers at  $12,454; the Highland Park School District follows at $15,224 and then the Ecorse Public School District at $16,108 and Detroit Public Schools at $18,730. In total, throughout Southeastern Michigan, there are 12 school districts where the median income for single mothers is below $20,000; six of the districts are located in Wayne County. Additionally, none of those school districts are located in Livingston County. When looking at the number of school districts where the median income of a single mother is below that of the poverty line for a family of four there are 29 school districts. Again, Wayne County has the highest number of school districts with single mothers with a median income below the poverty line and Livingston County doesn’t have any districts with that designation.

Where a Student Lives Impacts their Education: Northville has Highest Median Family Income

Where a student lives often impacts what school they attend, and those that live in a higher income area often have access to more educational resources and opportunities. In all of Southeastern Michigan the Northville Public School District has the highest median income for families with children at $184,289. This public school district brings public education opportunities to residents in the City of Northville, Northville Township and a portion of those in Novi. In total, there are six elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school that houses about 7,000 students. The median income examined in this post is for families with school-aged children that live within the boundaries of a school district, which does not necessarily encompass the boundary lines of a city or township.

There are only four school districts in the region where the median income for families with children is above $150,000. In addition to Northville Public Schools, those districts are: Birmingham Public Schools ($175,132), Bloomfield Hills Schools ($159,441) and Grosse Ile Township Schools ($150,060).

The Highland Park School District had the lowest median income for families with children at $16,847. This school district is contained within the boundaries of the City Highland Park. Currently, the only school in the district is a K-8 charter school that serves about 370 students; a high school is expected to open in the near future. Prior to the recession, Highland Park School District had an enrollment of about 3,900 students in 2007-08; enrollment dropped to under 1,000 during the 2011-12 school year. The changes in enrollment reflected the loss of residents in Highland Park and the School of Choice law that allowed students in one district to attend school in another district. Due to declining enrollment and a loss of revenue, Highland Parks schools was placed under financial receivership and it was determined all schools in the district would be converted into two charter schools. As mentioned, one charter school is currently the only school in the district.

Throughout the region there were five school districts where the median income of a family with children was under $25,000, those districts, which include Highland Park schools are: River Rouge School District ($19,837), Ecorse Public Schools ($23,668) Hamtramck Public Schools ($24,441) and Detroit Public Schools ($24,945). Both Detroit and Highland Park public schools have had Emergency Managers appointed by the state.

Wayne County is the only county in the region with public school districts that has median family incomes under $25,000.

The income threshold in Michigan that is considered to be the poverty line is $33,000 for a family of four. The only other school district in Southeastern Michigan that has a median income for families with children that falls below the poverty line is Van Dyke Public Schools in Macomb County ($27,125).

Understanding the median income of families with children for the districts in Southeastern Michigan is important because it also helps cultivate a further understanding of educational inequalities that often exist between children in high income and low-income families. According to the article “Income Segregation between School Districts and Inequality in Students’ Achievements,” the standardized test score, educational attainment and college enrollment gaps have continued to grow between children in high-income families and children in low-income families (Owens, 2017). This of course affects the future of the children, including employment and housing options. Family income also affects a child because it helps determine the resources invested into the child, including where they live, which can have a direct affect on their cognitive test scores, according to the article. Additionally, other resources that affect the child’s wellbeing include food, clothing and investments like books, technology and extra curricular activities.

Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills have Highest Percentage of Students in Private Schools

The U.S. education system allows students to attend either public or private schools, both for K-12 and post secondary education. While public education is the most common choice for parents and students, there are a large number of students who attend private schools. In Southeastern Michigan, the percentage of students within public school distract boundaries who attend private schools varies between 1 and 24 percent.

In the Southeastern Michigan region there are 110 public school districts, and within each of those districts some portion of students are sent to private schools. Of the 110 public school districts, 30 have more than 10 percent of students who attend a school operated by a private entity. Furthermore, there are five districts in the region where more than 20 percent of students in each district attend a private school. Of these five school districts, four are in Oakland County and one is in Wayne County. According to data from the American Community Survey, both Birmingham Public Schools and the Bloomfield Hills School District  (both in Oakland County) have the highest percentage of students who attend private schools at 24 percent.  The other two school districts in Oakland County where more than 20 percent of students are attending private schools are Berkley and Royal Oak public schools (21 and 23 percent, respectively). The Garden City public school district in Wayne County is the other district where more than 20 percent of students attend private schools (22 percent).

Conversely, Van Dyke Public Schools (Macomb County) and the Hazel Park Public School District (Oakland County) have the lowest percentage of students attending private schools in Southeastern Michigan at 1 percent. In Detroit, 6 percent of students in the Detroit Public Schools district attend private schools.

While there are various reasons for students to attend private schools, which include religious preferences, classroom sizes and access to specific resources, the districts with the two highest percentages of students attending private schools also are amongst those with the highest median incomes for parents in the region, according to the American Community Survey. In Birmingham Public Schools the median income of families with children is $175,132, and in the Bloomfield Hills public school district the median income for families with children is $159,441. Conversely, the median income for families with children in Van Dyke Public Schools district is $27,125, and in the Hazel Park Public School District the median income is $44,093.

Private school in Michigan, as it currently stands, do not receive any public funding. With tuition costs to fund the operation of these private schools, it is not surprising that the districts with higher median incomes have higher percentages of students attending private schools.

Census 2020: Hard to Count Areas in Southeastern Michigan

The goal of the 2020 Census is to count each person in the U.S., based on their primary residence, by April 1, 2020. However, the fear is that several communities in Michigan will be undercounted in the 2020 Census, meaning a lack of federal funding in the future. And a major portion of 7-county Southeastern Michigan area is in the so-called “hard to count” category.

The majority of the Census is completed by households self-responding via mail or online, starting this year. Throughout the country there are areas where self-response rates are very high, and in other areas they are just the opposite. The areas with previously low self-response rates have been deemed as “hard to count” areas; these areas often include minority and immigrant populations, along with renters and children under the age of 5.

Data for this post was provided by City University of New York, and they deemed an area hard to count if its self-response rate was 73 percent or less for the 2010 Census. This percentage is based on the mail return rate from occupied housing units for the 2010 Census.

As the map shows below, at the county level, self-response mail in rates are high throughout Southeastern Michigan, ranging from 78.5 percent to 86.6 percent. Livingston County had the highest self-response rate at 86.6 percent while Wayne County had the lowest at 78.5 percent. Breaking this data down to the census tract level helped determined what areas would be hard to count for the 2020 Census.

Overall, at the county level, five of the seven counties have hard to count populations. Wayne County has the highest hard to count population at 30 percent and Macomb County has the lowest hard to count population (of those with such a population) at 2 percent. Livingston and St. Clair counties did not have any hard to count data available. Wayne and Washtenaw counties are the only two in the region with hard to count populations in the double digits (30 and 10 percent, respectively).

When looking at the counties on a deeper level, by census tract, we see that Highland Park, Inkster and Detroit (all in Wayne County) have the largest hard to count populations in the region. In Highland Park 100 percent of the population is considered hard to count for the 2020 Census; in Inkster that percentage is 91 percent and in Detroit 86 percent of the population is considered hard to count. The top reason for all three of these cities having such a percentage of hard to count populations is due to the high poverty levels. Other reasons, according to AP News, include a high African American population, low response rates to the American Community Survey and a high percentage of children living below the poverty level. Of the hard to count communities in Southeastern Michigan (27), nine have hard to count populations above 50 percent.

Washtenaw County has the second overall highest percentage of hard to count populations. This is because Ypsilanti has 52 percent of the population considered hard to count. Ann Arbor is estimated to have 29 percent of its population designated as hard to count. The main reason for Ann Arbor’s hard to count status is because of the high percentage of residents between the ages of 18-24 years of age (the University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor); there is also a high proportion of renters there and a high proportion of individuals who move residences from one year to the next. In Ypsilanti there is a high hard to count population due to high poverty levels and the high number of renters.

To ensure overall high self-response rates the Census Bureau has now made it possible for individuals to complete the Census online, by mail and over the phone. If residents do not respond by one of those methods census takers will knock on the doors of homes that have not responded. Additionally, communities throughout the stateare also putting together large outreach campaigns to ensure members of their communities complete the Census. For example, the City of Detroit has a website that lists Census resources, ways to volunteer for outreach events and how to apply for a job with the Census. For more information on the Census visit 2020census.gov.

2019: Michigan Unemployment Rates Hit Lowest Point in December

In December of 2019 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 3.5, which is 0.6 percentage points lower than what it was in 2018 (4.1), according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of  Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate of 3.5 in December was the same as it was in September and October of 2019. However, it was 0.3 points higher than it was in the previous month.

December unemployment data at the local level is not yet available from the Michigan Department of  Technology, Management and Budget, but the November 2019 unemployment rate for the City of Detroit was 7 percent, which is the lowest it was all year. The November unemployment rate was 0.8 percentage points lower than the October 2019 unemployment rate (7.8 percent) and also 0.8 percentage points lower than the November 2018 Detroit unemployment rate.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for November of 2018 and 2019. In November of 2019 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4. Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rate at 2.2.

Between November of 2018 and 2019 each county in the region had a lower unemployment rate in 2019 than the previous year, with the exception of Oakland County. In both November of 2018 and 2019 Oakland County had an unemployment rate of 2.9. In that same time span Monroe County had the largest difference in unemployment rates. In November 2018 the Monroe County unemployment rate was 3.7 and in November 2019 the unemployment rate was 2.9.

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 $129,250 in October 2019; this was $1,540 lower than the average family dwelling price in September. The September 2019 price was an increase of $3,170 from October of 2018 and an increase of $9,860 from October of 2017, an increase of $17,920 from October of 2016 and increase of  $24,440 from October of 2015 and, finally, an increase of 
$29,490 from October of 2014.