Number of Females Elected in Michigan Increases

In November of 2018 Michigan voters cast ballots for a record number of females to serve as elected officials. The office of the governor, attorney general and secretary of state are now all filled by females. In addition, there was an increase of females elected to serve in the House of Representatives and the State Senate. Also, two female were elected to the State Supreme Court, one being an incumbent and the other a newcomer.

During the previous term in the State Senate, four females served in the 39 seats. But, in 2018 that number increased to 11 females serving in the 39 State Senate districts, meaning 28 percent of those elected to the State Senate in 2018 were women. As the map below shows there are no females serving in the State Senate for any district north of the Grand Rapids area. Additionally, most of the females elected to serve for the 2019 term represent areas in Southeastern Michigan.

In the House of Representatives the number of females elected to serve increased from 33 in the last term to 41 in the 2019 term. In total, there are 110 districts in the House of Representatives, 37 percent of which are represented by females. Unlike in the State Senate, females serve in districts throughout the state, including in the northern part of the lower peninsula and in the upper peninsula.

On the local level in Southeastern Michigan, representation of females on County Board of Commissioners varies throughout the region. In St. Clair County no women serve on the Board of Commissioners. In Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties each Board of Commissioners has more 50 percent or more female representation. Wayne County has the highest female representation on its Board at 60 percent (9 of 15 Commissioners).

Overall, the number of females represented in elected positions in Michigan increased following the 2018 election. At least part of that was a result of more women running for elected positions.

 

Opioid Deaths in Southeastern Michigan Continue to Rise

In 2017, according to data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, both Macomb and Wayne counties had the highest rate of opioid related deaths per 10,000 residents. Both counties had an opioid related death rate of 3.27. In our region, Oakland County had the lowest opioid related death rate in 2017 at 0.38.

When examining the sheer total of opioid related deaths between 2012 and 2017 we see that Wayne County not only had the highest total number of deaths each year, but also the largest increase. Between 2012 and 2017 Wayne County had an increase of 335 in the number of opioid related deaths. Macomb County had the second highest total number of opioid related deaths each year in the region, growing from 132 in 2012 to 285 in 2017. Macomb and Wayne counties were the only two in the region with opioid deaths totaling more than 100 each year.

Just last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood inside a Macomb County fire and rescue building to report that the State of Michigan was a recipient of a $10 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to combat the opioid crisis. Through this grant, and various partnerships, high-impact, state-based interventions with a focus on identifying novel approaches to address gaps in current treatment and prevention programs,” will occur. Programs already in place in Michigan to combat the opioid crisis include expanding the distribution of naloxone (a drug used to counter-act opioid overdoses) into the community, a Michigan State Police program that allows victims of addiction to walk into any MSP post and get help without fear of being criminally charged and providing access to real-time information on prescription data and analytics of controlled substances for prescribers and pharmacists.

Metro-Detroit Economic Indicators

In December of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.1, an increase from the November unemployment rate of 3.4, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for December of 2017 was 0.6 points below what it was in December of 2018 (4.7). Since April of 2018 the data shows that the unemployment rate for the State essentially leveled out around 4, except when it dropped to 3.4 in November.

The Detroit rate was 0.5 points higher in December of 2018 from the previous month. Also, the December 2018 unemployment rate for Detroit was 0.1 points lower than what it was in December of 2017.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for December of 2017 and 2018. In December of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4.9, with St. Clair County having the second highest regional unemployment rate 4.7. Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties were the only three in the region with unemployment rates below 4 in December of 2018. The unemployment rate for Livingston County was 3.3, the unemployment rate for Oakland County was 3.3 and the unemployment rate for Washtenaw County was 3.1.

When comparing 2017 and 2018, Monroe, Washtenaw and Wayne counties were the only three in the region to experience a decrease in unemployment. Wayne County had the largest decrease at 0.9 points. Livingston, Macomb and St. Clair counties all experienced an increase from 2017 to 2019. Livingston County had the largest increase at 0.2.

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 $123,550 in December 2018; this was $490 lower than the average family dwelling price in November. The December 2018 price was an increase of $6,210 from December of 2017 and an increase of $13,430 from December of 2016, an increase of $19,780 from December of 2016 and increase of $26,570 from December of 2014.

Communities Continue to Opt Out of Michigan Recreational Marijuana

In November of 2018 the State of Michigan legalized recreational marijuana. And, while recreational marijuana facilities have not made their way into any municipality yet (the state has until November 2019 to work out logistics to allow such facilities to operate), several municipalities have already opted out of allowing them. Under the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, every municipality is considered to be “in,” or to allow medical marijuana facilities, unless the elected body of a municipality votes to opt out through an ordinance or resolution (an ordinance is preferred for legal matters). According to the Michigan Department of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, 48 municipalities in Southeastern Michigan have opted out, with the city of Monroe being the first in the state. Even though almost 50 municipalities in Southeastern Michigan, more than 60 in the state of Michigan, have opted out of allowing recreational marijuana, the ordinances that allowed them to opt out can be changed, allowing them to opt back in. As the map below shows, the highest concentration of opt out communities in Southeastern Michigan is in northern Macomb and St. Clair counties. In that area alone there are 12 communities that have already opted out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities. Wayne County has the highest total number of opt out communities at the county level at 13; Macomb County has the second highest number at 10.

Reasons why municipalities have opted out include wanting to wait to see how the state will regulate recreational marijuana facilities, wanting to further amend their own zoning regulations for such facilities and not wanting such facilities within the boundaries of their municipality at all.

 

911 Fees the Norm in Michigan

The way in which funding for 9-1-1 services changed in Michigan in 2018 with Public Act 51. On a quarterly basis, the state provides funding to the counties. This funding comes from the $0.25 state 9-1-1 fee on postpaid devices and a 5 percent fee on pre-paid phone cards and minutes. From there, 65 percent of these pooled funds are paid to the counties in Michigan. Of this 65 percent, 40 percent of the funds are distributed to each county and the other 60 percent are distributed on a per capita basis to the counties. Counties also have the option to levy additional 9-1-1 fees through levying a local surcharge. If levied, the surcharges must be used to fund personnel, facilities and training related to the delivery of 9-1-1 services. These surcharges can be levied by one of three ways, which are:

  • The County Commission passes a resolution to collect a maximum of $0.42 per month on the cell phone bills of county residents;
  • The County Commission places a surcharge (which can be above $0.42 but cannot exceed $3) as a county-wide proposal;
  • Collecting a local surcharge by the rate authorized to that specific county pursuant to the Michigan Public Service Commission Case No. U-15489.

As noted, funding is made available to all counties in Michigan for 9-1-1 services through the provisions of Public Act 51. With the option to levy additional funds to support 9-1-1 services, most counties in Michigan have decided to utilize the opportunities offered to them to do so. Of the 83 counties in Michigan, only 11 do not currently bring in additional funds through a 9-1-1 surcharge, with Macomb County being the largest county not do so. Regionally, Wayne County levies the additional $0.42 (the most a County Commission can charge by not placing a measure on the ballot) through a surcharge, Oakland County levies $0.91, Monroe County levies $0.42, St. Clair County levies $0.60, Washtenaw County levies $0.43 and Livingston County levies $1.85, which is the highest regionally.

Of Michigan’s 83 counties there are six that levy $3, which is the maximum amount a county can levy and must be approved by voters.

Wayne County Hosts Highest Number of Contaminated Sites in Michigan

The federal Superfund Program was created in 1980 to respond to releases of hazardous substances in the environment. The Superfund Program protects the public and the environment, making communities safer, healthier, and more economically viable.

Superfund sites are some of the most significant and expensive sites of environmental contamination. Superfund sites include all sites in the United States where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified contamination with hazardous waste. When the EPA determines that a site requires cleanup, the site is placed on the National Priorities List (NPL). As of 2017, Michigan has 65 sites listed on the NPL. An additional 19 sites that were previously on the NPL have been deleted because all necessary response actions were completed.

NPL sites fit within three categories:

  1. Proposed NPL site,
  2. Current NPL site, and
  3. Deleted NPL site.

A proposed NPL site means that hazardous substances have been identified at the site, and it has been recommended to the federal Superfund Program for clean-up. Current NPL sites are those that have been accepted by the Superfund Program and are undergoing clean-up. The deleted NPL sites are those that have completed the process of clean-up, and they have been deemed protective of public health, and the environment.

Sites in the Superfund Program may be managed in a variety of ways. The EPA, the state, or private parties may implement the cleanup. The Superfund law allows for enforcement actions which make private parties conduct the cleanup if they were responsible for the contamination. Where there are responsible parties, the EPA may take the enforcement lead with the state providing support (36 sites in Michigan). In some cases, the state may take the enforcement lead on particular sites (10 sites in Michigan).

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also has sites for remediation called Baseline Environmental Assessments (BEA). BEA sites are facilities with a history of use of chemicals. The sites may be classified into several categories, including Part 201 (i.e., having one or more contaminants) and Part 213 (i.e., having leaking underground storage tanks). Remediation of these sites includes activities to manage and reduce risks of environmental contamination. This may be achieved through activities such as: initial evaluation, interim response, remedial investigation, land and resource use restrictions, and monitoring.

All Contaminated Sites in Michigan by County: BEA, Part 201, Part 213, and Superfund NPL Sites

The map below of the state of Michigan includes BEA, 201, and 213 contaminated sites, as well as Superfund NPL sites. Each color on the map represents the range of BEA, 201, and 213 contaminated sites per county or the actual total. For example, many of the counties with a smaller total number of contaminated sites are designated with a color that is also associated with a range. However, Kent, Macomb and Wayne counties are designated with a color that directly associates to the total number of contaminated sites in that county. The map shows that Wayne County contains the largest number of contaminated sites 7,078 sites. Kent County has 3,499 contaminated sites and Macomb County has 2,315.

All Contaminated Sites in Wayne County by Municipality: BEA, Part 201, Part 213, and Superfund NPL Sites

The regional map below includes BEA, 201, and 213 contaminated sites, as well as active Superfund NPL contaminated sites and deleted NPL sites. Each color on the map represents the range of BEA, 201, and 213 contaminated sites per city (e.g., Highland Park = 124-285 sites). A green circle indicates a deleted NPL site, while a yellow diamond indicates an active NPL site. The map shows that Detroit contains the greatest number of contaminated sites in Wayne County, with a total of 3,648 (the color red does provide a range, based off the range before it, but Detroit is the only city within the last range). Additionally, there is one deleted NPL Superfund site in Detroit and two in Wayne County. There is also an active NPL Superfund site in Wayne County, in Trenton.

Overall, as the second map below shows, a block in Southwest Detroit has the highest number of concentrated contaminated sites. On a larger scale though, the area just west of Woodward Avenue, south of Highland Park, has several blocks where there are at least one to six contaminated sites.

In this post we simply highlighted the counties and municipalities in the state with the highest number of contaminated sites. However, there is more to this conversation than just that. In a coming post we will also be taking a further dive into where much of these sites are located regionally, specifically Detroit, and the link between income and contaminated sites.

Equal Equitable Policies Needed for Longer Life Expectancy

Socioeconomic factors have a direct impact on the span of one’s life. Our posts on January 3,16 and 23 have demonstrated clear relationships between lifespan and key policy variables.

Where do you live? What is your highest-level education? How much do you earn? Do you have access to health care? Depending on how an individual answers each of those questions, their life expectancy may go up or down.

As we’ve learned over the last several weeks:

  • Those living at or below the poverty line have a lower life expectancy.
  • Those with a bachelor’s degree or higher have a higher life expectancy.
  • Those without health insurance have lower life expectancy.

We further examined the combined impact of these three factors to help understand which is most important. Using multiple regression analysis, we estimated the impact of each variable as well as their combined effect. Together they explain 62.6% of the variance in life expectancy across the region, meaning that nearly two thirds of one’s age at death is related to their combined effect. This is a highly statistically significant effect with less than one chance in a 1,000 that this estimate is a result of chance. Further, of the three variables, the most powerful variable is the level of education (b=0.100; beta=0.456). It is almost one and half times as powerful as poverty (-0.099; -0.345) the second most powerful variable. And education is four times as powerful as being uninsured (-0.081;-0.101).

Nevertheless, all three of these variables contributed an independent effect on life expectancy. These variables are correlated with each other, which under certain conditions can bias these results, but after examining statistics such multicollinearity this does not appear to be a problem. So, while poverty effects both education and the likelihood that somebody in uninsured, each provides an independent effect. No doubt other factors do as well, including chance, habits, and one’s genetic background.

Still it is both sad and potentially hopeful that much of the differences in life expectancy across our region can be explained by these factors because all of these factors are ones we, as a society and a polity, can affect.

This helps us answer the question of what can be done to improve average length of an individual’s life. We need to start by decreasing poverty. Decreasing poverty is not easy to tackle, but there are steps policy makers can take to lower the number of people living at or below the poverty level. Such actions include increasing the minimum wage, creating policies focused on long-term job growth and supporting equity in pay structures, job opportunities and available housing. Perhaps the most important policy is to use the tax system to redistribute income by taxing the very rich (the one and two percenters) to provide supports and services to those with less income. Remember the U.S. once taxed high earners at a rate over 70 percent.

More tax revenue would support higher education, which has recently been strangled by decreasing support from state governments and increasing reliance on student loans. The over-reliance on loans burdens graduating students with long term loan payments, which decrease their mobility and their ability to pursue graduate education.

The creation of a semblance of a national health care system through Obamacare has provided some basic protections for many who had no care. There are, however, still many that do not have care or for whom care is so expensive they cannot truly afford it. Increasing access to health insurance will also require extensive work, but one way to start includes providing information to the underserved on their current options to receive healthcare, and extending these services. Policies reforming the fee structures instituted by insurance and medical companies and creating alternative payment methods are other ways to make health care more accessible.

Overall, discovering reasons why certain communities in Southeastern Michigan have such lower average life expectancies helps us understand what we need to move ahead. Let’s provide them with the income to create healthy lifestyle and sustain longer lives. However, actions must be taken in order for those opportunities to be made available. We as a society, and our policy makers, need to ensure equity and equality are inherent parts of the socioeconomic policies that can ultimately give individuals an opportunity to live a longer life.

 

Education Related to Life Expectancy in Southeastern Michigan

Another way to think about life expectancy is to say that it is partially a result of the choices we make, and the quality of choices might be indicated by our extent of education. Here we have represented education by the percent of a tract’s population over 25 that has a bachelor’s degree or higher. One could argue, appropriately, that getting a college education is at least partially a function of family income, but for now we want to see the simple correlation of this measure or education and life expectancy. We find a correlation between life expectancy and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher is 0.721 (sig. 0.00), meaning, as an individual’s education level increases so does their average age of life expectancy. In Detroit, the map below shows that majority of the Census Tracts that make up the City have about 8 percent of the 25 years of age and older population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. And, as we’ve discussed throughout this series, Detroit has among the lowest average life expectancy rates in the Southeastern Michigan region. The two Census Tracts in Detroit with the highest life expectancy rates (86-90 years of age) also have the highest percentage of individuals age 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher. The one Census Tract just south of 8 Mile Road with the highest average life expectancy rate has between 15 and 25 percent of the 25 years of age and older population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. The other Census Tract in Detroit with the highest average life expectancy is just southwest of Downtown Detroit and has between 25 and 48 percent of the 25 and older population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. On the opposite side of the spectrum, three of the four Census Tracts in the Detroit with the lowest average life expectancy (62-65) also have the lowest percentage of residents 25 years of age and older who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Outside of Detroit there are similar trends: communities with lower average life expectancies tend to also have lower percentages of individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher. For example, the majority of Washtenaw County has an average life expectancy at 86 years of age or older. Additionally, the majority of that county has 15 percent or more of the 25 years of age and older population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. There are exceptions, areas in the more rural counties, particularly Monroe and St. Clair counties, though that have average life expectancies above the regional average but have lower percentages of individuals living with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

As has been shown above, there is a strong positive correlation between the percentage of individuals 25 years of age and older who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and an individual’s life expectancy. This positive correlation is further demonstrated in the scattergram below, which shows that as the percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher increases, so does the average life expectancy. The chart also shows that majority of the population in Southeastern Michigan has a life expectancy between 70 and 80 years of age with 20 percent or less of that population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Additionally, the chart shows that any area with a population that has 60 percent or more of the population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher has an average life expectancy of 75 years of age or higher.

As has been shown through some of the examples above, there is a strong positive correlation between the percentage of individuals 25 years of age and older who earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and an individual’s life expectancy. This positive correlation is further demonstrated in the chart above, which shows that as the percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher increases, so does the average life expectancy. Additionally, the chart shows that any area with a population that has 60 percent or more of the population having earned a bachelor’s degree or higher has an average life expectancy of 75 years of age or higher.

Overall, these maps and the graph show that education is related to an individual’s life expectancy. Reasons for this include, tendency to earn higher wages, which allows easier access to health care and transportation. In a recent News Scientist article it was also stated that more education leads to higher life expectancy because education improves an individual’s cognitive abilities, which allows for better planning and self-control.

Next week, we will further examine how all three factors, education, access to health insurance and poverty, all affect an individual’s life expectancy.

Lower Life Expectancy Related to Lack of Health Insurance

The correlation between life expectancy and those who are uninsured is -0.617 (sig. 0.00), meaning that there is moderately strong tendency for the length of life to decline as lack of access to health care (i.e. being uninsured) increases. In general, those without health insurance tend to live shorter lives. For example, in the City of Detroit, there are more than 25 different Census Tracts where residents have a life expectancy of 70 years of age or less. Of those Census Tracts, majority of them have 21 percent of the population or more living without health insurance. Even as life expectancy increases to the median range of the spectrum in Detroit, the evidence shows that majority of the Census Tracts have about 13 percent of the population or more without health insurance. Interestingly though, only one of the four Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is 65 years of age has 21 percent or more of the population living without health insurance. The other three Census Tracts with such an average life expectancy has between 13 and 21 percent of the population living without health insurance.

When moving beyond the boundaries of Detroit, in many of the outer-ring suburbs life expectancy increases as does the percentage of residents with health care. For example, majority of Washtenaw, St. Clair and Monroe counties have less than 13 percent of the populations living without health insurance and average life expectancies at 76 years of age or higher. With the exception of one Census Tract in southern Monroe County, no other areas in those three outlying counties have more than 21 percent of the population living without health insurance. As you do move in closer to Detroit though, there are wider ranges of life expectancies and access to health care. In Wayne County, for example, areas such as Romulus and Lincoln Park also have lower life expectancies (70 years of age or less) and more than 21 percent of the population not having health insurance. But, there are also areas, such as Grosse Ile, where the average life expectancy is 86 years of age and above and 8 percent or less of the population do not have health insurance. While the average life expectancy tends to be higher in Macomb and Oakland counties, there are still pockets, such as South Warren, Mt. Clemens and Pontiac, where the average life expectancy is 70 years of age or less and those without health insurance is at about 13 percent or higher.

As has been shown through some of the examples above, there is a moderately strong negative correlation between the percentage of the population living without health insurance and the average life expectancy of Census Tracts in Southeastern Michigan. This is further demonstrated in the chart above, which ultimately shows that as the percentage of the population living without health insurance increases the average life expectancy decreases. The chart also shows though that majority of the Census Tracts in Southeastern Michigan have an average life expectancy of about 75 years of age or higher with 10 percent of less of the population living without health insurance.

 

Overall, these maps and the graph show that while there is a range in life expectancies in Southeastern Michigan, there is also a range in those with access to health care, particularly those in and around Detroit. Access to health care is important as health care providers can not only treat, but also prevent, a plethora of illnesses and diseases. Such knowledge and treatment is vital for longer life expectancies.

Economic Indicators: Unemployment Drops in Detroit

  • In November unemployment rates remain stagnant at the state level, decrease in Detroit;
  • Majority of Southeastern Michigan counties have higher average weekly wages than the national average;
  • Housing prices continue to rise in Metro-Detroit.

In November of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 3.9, a rate that did not change from the previous month, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for November of 2017 was 0.7 points above what it was in November of 2018.

The Detroit rate was 1.3 points lower in November of 2018 from the previous month. Also, the November 2018 unemployment rate for Detroit was 0.2 points higher than what it was in November of 2017.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for November of 2017 and 2018. All declined except for Livingston, which stayed the same. In November of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4.6, with St. Clair County having the second highest regional unemployment rate 4.1. Livingston, Oakland and Washtenaw counties were the only three in the region with unemployment rates at or below 3 in November of 2018. The unemployment rate for Livingston County was 2.9, the unemployment rate for Oakland County was 3 and the unemployment rate for Washtenaw County was 2.6.

Washtenaw County experienced the largest decline, with the November 2017 unemployment rate being 3.3 and the November 2018 unemployment rate being 2.6.

Regionally, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, Oakland County has the highest average weekly wages for all industries at $1,168, with Washtenaw County following closely at $1,134 and Wayne County just behind that at $1,125. The U.S. average weekly earnings were $887; St. Clair and Livingston counties are the only two in the region with average weekly earnings below the national average.

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 $124,840 in November 2018; this was $30 lower than the average family dwelling price in October. The November 2018 price was an increase of $6,990 from November of 2017 and an increase of $15,050 from November of 2016, an increase of $21,570 from November of 2015 and increase of $26,620 from November of 2014. Note that the amount of annual increase is declining steadily.