Eastpointe: Property Taxes Decrease, Number of Special Assessments Increase

For our cities to function effectively, taxes must be levied to support services vital to their survival. Here we examine the same hypothetical Eastpointe property discussed last week to portray what additional taxes—beyond general school, city and county operating millages—are levied to provide services to this city’s residents.

The first chart below shows that from 1998 to 2009, the total dollar amount this hypothetical property owner was paying in taxes gradually increased. This can be attributed to two factors. First, both the assessed and taxable value of the property (shown in Chart 3) gradually increased during that time, meaning more property tax revenue for local governments. Second, voters approved at least one new major tax levy during that time. This major tax was approved in 2005 and allowed the city to collect a special levy of up to 7 mills for public safety. For this hypothetical household, that levy equaled $327.94 in 2005. In contrast, a decade later, that same special levy brought in $219.08. The decline was due to the fact that the taxable value of the property plummeted, along with the assessed value, in the wake of the Great Recession.

As shown in Chart 1, the amount of taxes this hypothetical property owner paid peaked in 2009 ($2,432.30), which corresponded with the peak taxable value of this home ($53,599). The subsequent decline in tax bills occurred despite new service assessments approved by Macomb County voters. For example, it was in December of 2008 when the regional millage for the Detroit Zoo began to appear on the tax bills for this property, which by then had a taxable value of $51,340.41, costing the homeowner $5.13. Tax data from the City of Eastpointe also shows that this new assessment was much lower than existing county assessments such as the Huron-Clinton Metroparks millage, costing this hypothetical property owner $11.01 in 2009,and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART) millage, which cost the homeowner $30.29 that year. Chart 2 below presents a timeline of the changes in county-wide and city millages that affected Eastpointe taxpayers.

Chart 1

**(Note-all taxes on the Eastpointe tax bill are included in the graph above)

Chart 2: Timeline of Eastpointe, Macomb County Millages and Increased Millage Renewals

1995

  • Suburban Mobility Area Transit Authority (SMART): 1 mill (quadrennial countywide renewals approved at varying rates; the most recent was narrowly approved in 2018)

2005

  • Eastpointe Public Safety: 7 mills (part of general city operating millage starting in 2016)

2008

  • Detroit Zoo: 0.1 mill (2008-present; renewal approved in 2016)
  • Macomb County Veteran Millage: 0.4 mills (2008-present; increase approved in 2016)

2011

  • Recreation Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe: 1 millage  (2011-Present)

2012

  • Detroit Institute of Arts: 0.2 mills (2012-2022; renewal question on March 2020 ballot)

2015

  • South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority (SMORSA): 14 mills (2015-present)

**The Huron Clinton Metropark Authority millage has been levied since the 1940s***

Chart 3

The trend of decreased property values and the addition of special assessments to tax bills continued in the wake of the Great Recession. In 2011, residents in Eastpointe and Roseville approved a 1-mill levy to fund the newly created Recreational Authority of Roseville and Eastpointe (RARE). Later, voters in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties approved a 10-year, 1 mill tax for the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), which appeared on tax bills in December of 2012. The largest increase came in 2015, when Eastpointe and Hazel Park voters approved the creation of the South Macomb Oakland Regional Services Authority (SMORSA), to provide a new revenue source for public safety services in both cities; this regional authority levies 14 mills annually. Macomb County voters also approved a 0.069 mill veterans millage in 2016, a slight increase from an earlier 0.04 millage rate.  In addition, residents of Eastpointe have regularly renewed a millage to support their local library.

Between 1998 and 2019, the timeline for the data in this post, the amount in taxes paid reached a high in 2009 at $2,432.30 (when the taxable value of the property was at its highest) and a low in 2014 at $1,563.50 (when the taxable value was at its lowest). Due to the limitations of Michigan’s Proposal A, which only allows annual taxable value increases of 5 percent or the rate of inflation (unless the property is sold), the taxable value of this hypothetical property rose only about 7.4 percent over the next five years (2015-19). However, due to these new assessments, the hypothetical property owner paid about 38 percent more in total property tax during that timeframe—roughly equal to the rate of the home’s assessed value increase.

Eastpointe’s case reveals that local governments have had some success in combating the fiscal consequences of the decline of general operating tax revenue with voter-approved special assessments for the county-level service authorities, and especially with SMORSA. Voter support for these services has been there in recent years, but it remains to be seen whether it will persist in the coming years.

This year, property owners across Macomb County may see some additional changes to their tax bills. In March, the DIA will ask voters to renew a 10 year, 1 mill tax renewal; if voted down in any particular county, the DIA assessment in that county will fall off the tax rolls in 2022. Voters will also be asked to approve a 1.9, 10-year millage on the March ballot to support classroom operations through the Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD); this proposed millage is different from the general operating millages currently levied by the MISD and local school districts.  Later, in August, Macomb County voters will also be asked to approve a millage for a yet to be determined amount and length to support either building a new county jail or renovating the current one. The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) may also be considering a millage proposal in 2020; although at this time it appears Macomb County voters will not be asked to support the proposal to support this.

Eastpointe: Property Values Rise as Taxable Values Inch Up

This post is the first of many that will demonstrate the difference between the taxable and assessed values in communities throughout Southeastern Michigan and explain the various taxes levied in these communities and their use. We will highlight at least one community in each county in the region and this post discusses Eastpointe in Macomb County. Eastpointe, formerly known as East Detroit, has a population of about 32,000, a median income of about $46,000 and a median home value of $64,700, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The chart below shows the taxable value and assessed value of a hypothetical Eastpointe home, beginning in July of 1998 through December of 2019. The taxable value is the value used to calculate a property’s taxes, and each year it can only increase by 5 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. This number may be equal to the property’s state equalized, or assessed value, but not more than those values. Such limits on tax growth, or lack thereof, is a result of Proposal A, a state constitutional amendment approved by voter referendum in 1994. The assessed value of a property, or the state equalized valued (SEV), is usually about half of a property’s true cash value, and the true cash value is the fair market value of the property.

In 1998 the taxable value of the Eastpointe property examined was $40,000 and the assessed value was $50,000. In July of 2007 the assessed value of the property peaked at $83,252 but the taxable value was only at $50,186. By 2008 the Great Recession hit Southeastern Michigan and both the assessed values and taxable values of properties began to decline. Between July of 2007 and July of 2010 the assessed value decreased from $83,252 to $40,700, or more than 50 percent ($40,000). The annual declines continued after the recession, and the assessed value of the property reached its lowest point in July of 2014 at $34,641, a nearly 60% decline from its peak. Since July of 2014 the assessed value of the property has increased to $47,840.

As noted, the taxable value of the property was $40,000 in July of 1998, but it did not increase nearly as much as the assessed value did, because it cannot rise more than the rate of inflation or 5 percent from year-to-year. As a result, the taxable value of the property did not peak until July of 2009 ($53,599). A year later though, in July of 2010, the taxable value plummeted to $39,749. A property’s taxable value can decrease in such a way if there is a physical loss to the property and/or if the property is sold in the previous tax year. The Great Recession began in 2008 and by 2010 the taxable value of properties were on the decline, ultimately affecting governmental budgets, and services. In July of 2013 the taxable value of this Eastpointe property reached its low point at $30,804. Since then the taxable value of the property has only increased to $33,095.

Due to economic trends and the way taxable values and assessed values are calculated under Proposal A of, the assessed value of a property is nearly always higher than the taxable value. For this specific property, the only time the taxable value and assessed value were nearly the same was in July of 2009, when the taxable value was $39,749 and the assessed value was $40,700. In addition, while the gap between the two values has not been nearly as large as it was prior to the recession, since 2016 that gap has been widening.

As noted earlier, our various forms of government rely on property taxes to function, primarily our local governments (municipalities and school districts). The chart above shows that just because the local economy is recovering since the Great Recession, the budgets of local governments are not necessarily reaping the benefits. According to a recent report by the Michigan Municipal League, 173 cities in Michigan have experienced a 2 percent or less revenue growth in the last 15 years and an additional 52 have experienced a budget growth of 3 percent or more. For Eastpointe, according to the a recent report released by the Michigan Municipal League, the total revenue for the city in 2002 was $22.3 million, and in 2017 it was $25.8 million. While the total revenue for Eastpointe has increased by 16 percent the revenue generated by property and income taxes declined by 23 percent. However, while the effects of limited property tax have negatively affected municipalities across the state, the slow growth of such taxes has benefitted for the property owners. According to a September 2018 Detroit Free Press article while income growth in the state has increased since the last recession, household incomes prior to the recession have not yet been recouped. Since incomes are also recovering at a slower rate, it can be viewed that the slow growth rate of property tax revenue is allowing property owners to better stay afloat economically.

It should be noted though that a, at least in Southeastern Michigan, local tax bills have become gradually more complicated as voters approve additional tax levies, to help make up for the loss in revenue as a result of the recession, and the loss in revenue due to the limited growth of taxable values. Next week we will examine the various taxes levied for this hypothetical Eastpointe property, including what they are for, what additional ones have been added over time and how the overall tax amount for the property has either increased, or decreased, over time.

Alcohol Causes Most Traffic Deaths in Southeastern Michigan, Distracted Driving Causes Most Injuries

Traffic fatalities in Michigan totaled just under 1,000 in 2018, a number that officials from the Michigan State Police said is too high. However, that number was below the 2016 and 2017 traffic fatality numbers which rose above 1,000. Below we examine the number of traffic fatalities and injuries in Southeastern Michigan, along with the number of fatalities and injuries related to alcohol, distracted driving and drugs. As the charts show, of the factors examined, alcohol is the largest contributor to traffic fatalities in the region.  

Wayne County, which is also the largest county in the state, had the highest number of traffic fatalities at 164, 63 of which were alcohol related. Distracted driving contributed to 6 of the164 deaths and drugs contributed to 38. Oakland and Macomb counties had the second and third highest number of traffic fatalities in the region at 54 and 53. In Oakland County, of the 54 traffic fatalities, 13 were alcohol related, 3 were related to distracted driving and 8 were related to drugs. For Macomb County, alcohol contributed to 18 of the 53 traffic deaths and distracted driving contributed to 3 of the deaths; there were not any drug related traffic deaths.

When looking at the percentage of alcohol related traffic deaths compared to the total number of traffic deaths, Monroe County had the highest rate. Of the 29 traffic deaths in Monroe County in 2018, 48 percent of them (14) were alcohol related. St. Clair County had the lowest percentage at 6 percent. In 2018 there were 16 traffic deaths in St. Clair County and 1 was alcohol related. With those two exceptions, the percentage of alcohol related traffic deaths ranges between 24 and 38 percent.

Of the other two factors, drugs contributed more to traffic fatalities than distracted driving.

Injuries related to vehicle accidents are higher than fatalities and while Wayne, Oakland and Macomb still had the highest numbers in the region, the data shows that distracted driving was reported to be the largest contributor of the factors examined. Overall, data indicated that distracted driving contributed to an average of 10 percent of the traffic related injuries in Southeastern Michigan in 2018. In Macomb C, Monroe and Washtenaw counties distracted driving contributed to 11 percent of the traffic related injuries and in Wayne County distracted driving contributed to 7 percent.

 Although Wayne County had the lowest percentage of distracted driving related traffic injuries in the region, it had the highest number at 1,082 (there were 16,578 total injuries). Alcohol was related to 897 traffic injuries in Wayne County and drugs were related to 281 injuries. In Oakland County there were 10,105 total traffic related injuries, 572 of which were alcohol related, 1,013 of which were related to distracted driving and 199 of which were related to drugs. In Macomb County there were 7,360 traffic related injuries, 391 of which were related to alcohol, 813 of which were related to distracted driving, and none of which were related to drugs. And, while Macomb County did not report any drug related traffic injuries in 2018, St. Clair County was the only county in the region where there were more drug related traffic injuries than alcohol or distracted driving injuries. In 2018 there were 931 traffic injuries in St. Clair County, 122 of which were related to drugs. 

While the full 2019 Michigan State Police Report on traffic fatalities and injuries has not been released, officials maintain that they continue to strive for fewer than 1,000 fatalities each year. Additionally, officials have said they believe the lower 2018 number is related to additional efforts made to educate drivers and stricter enforcement. The 2019 numbers will be released in March, and at that time we will examine the new data and compare it to historical data.

Real Time Water Monitoring System Will Need Regional Support

In Southeastern Michigan there are 14 wastewater treatment plants that did, and plan to again, participate in a real time water monitoring system. This real time water monitoring system would span from Port Huron to Monroe, from where Lake Huron meets the St. Clair River down to Lake Erie. The purpose of the system is to better ensure the water basin that provides drinking water to more than 3 million people remains clean, and if there is contamination, those who run the water plants could shutoff intake to ensure contaminants do not enter the drinking water.

Current events in Southeastern Michigan, such as the collapse of a site into the Detroit River that is potentially contaminated with uranium and the leaking of green hexavalent chromium ooze onto I-696 near stormwater drains, are a reminder of just how easily our waterways can become contaminated. While steps certainly need to be taken to avoid contaminants entering our waterways, a full scale real time water monitoring system is also vital for public health. However, that has not always been a priority.

The real time water monitoring system was first established in 2006 with $3.5 million in funding provided by the federal government; local governments at the county and municipal level also initially chipped in. However, by 2011 the system was no more as funding dried up. The reasons? According to a 2016 MLive article, local communities did not have the funds to allocate toward the operation and maintenance of the system and would not pass the operational charges along to the ratepayers. Additionally, a 2012 Municipal and Sewer Magazine article stated that some of the communities along the Huron to Erie water real time water monitoring system corridor were concerned about the data the system was producing and wanted to invest money in their own systems, not a regional one. 

Since 2011 the region has been left without a real time water monitoring system due to lack of and interest in funding. That is until in 2017 when then Gov. Rick Snyder allocated $375,000 in his budget. The Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) has since been charged with procuring and installing the water monitoring system. According a SEMCOG representative, the updated installation of the system is near completion and they hope to have real time data from it pushed to public in the near future. In December they gave no indication that any of the stations were running, just that a stakeholder meeting would be happening in the near future.

While the re-investment in the system gives way to updated infrastructure needed to protect our waterways and public health, as the story of the system’s past shows, regional investment and collaboration will be necessary for its success.  As of the beginning December, no funds beyond the 2017 investment by the state had been allocated to the system and staff at the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy were unaware of the system and its funding. Funding options may vary in keeping the system operating-whether it be surcharges passed on to ratepayers, additional taxes levied or additional funds found in government budgets. However the funds are found, they need to be allocated to protect the public health of the region and cleanliness of our greatest natural asset.

If the communities along the Huron-to-Erie water basin don’t come together to collaborate at a regional level to keep this system running, history could repeat itself leaving the region without a system to protect our health.

The image below was provided by SEMCOG and shows the locations where the real time water monitoring system sites will operate from, which are water treatment plants throughout the region. These sites were also part of the original system that was established in 2006.

STD Rates on the Rise in Southeastern Michigan

Throughout Southeastern Michigan, Wayne County has consistently had the highest sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates since at least 2009, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Below are three charts showing the rates per 100,000 people for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. All three charts show that the rate at which individuals in Wayne County have one of those STDs is much higher than any of the neighboring counties. Additionally, Livingston County had such low numbers of sexually transmitted infections accounted for there was no data available for some of the STDs.

The first chart below shows the rates people with chlamydia per 100,000 between 2009 and 2018 for the counties in Southeastern Michigan. Wayne County’s rate peaked at 1,213.6 in 2010 but has since declined to 872.6 per 100,000 people in 2018. The sheer number of chlamydia cases reported in Wayne County in 2018 was 15,305. The county with the lowest number of cases per capita was Livingston County. In 2009 the rate was 112.1 cases per 100,00 people and by 2018 that number increased to 312.5 cases per people. In 2018, 318 cases of chlamydia were reported in Livingston County. Unlike with Wayne County, all the other counties in the region experienced an overall increase in the rate at which people were contracting the infection. Of the three types of STDs explored in this post, chlamydia has the highest number of cases reported, making it the most common.

The national trend also appears to show an increase in the number of people becoming infected with an STD. Although no specific reason was given for the decrease in Wayne County’s number it could be related to an increase in information related to sexual education and access to condoms, which are the primary prevention source beyond abstinence.

Wayne County again had the highest rate for the STD examined in the chart below, which is gonorrhea. However, the trend for this infection is not as similar to the trend for chlamydia. For Wayne County, there were 457.2 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people reported in 2009, and while that number dipped to 213.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2014 it has since increased to 363.4 cases per 100,000 people. While it is fair there has been an overall decrease in the amount of gonorrhea cases reported over the last 10 years, there seems to be a trend of those numbers rising. In 2018 in Wayne there was a total of 6,374 gonorrhea cases reported.

St. Clair County regularly had the lowest rates reported for gonorrhea infections between 2009 and 2018. In 2009 there were 79 cases reported per 100,000 people and in 2018 that number decreased to 45.2 (72 cases total). However, the number of cases dropped so low in 2014 and 2015 a rate wasn’t able to be calculated, again showing the trend where there has been an overall decrease in cases, but the numbers are beginning to tick up.

For some counties, like Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw, the per capita number has increased above the  number reported in 2009. Washtenaw County had the second highest per capita number of cases reported throughout the time frame. In 2018 the gonorrhea rate was 141 cases per 100,000 people (523 cases). While an overall increase from the 2009 rate of  95.8 cases 100,000 people, it is more than 200 points below the Wayne County rate.

Syphilis has the lowest rate among the sexually transmitted infections examined in this post, so low that only data for Wayne, Macomb Oakland and Washtenaw counties was available. Wayne County had the highest rates between 2009 and 2018. In 2009 Wayne County had a rate of 17.4 cases per 100,000 people and in 2018 that increased to 44.8 cases per 100,000 people, or a total of 786 cases. Of the counties with reported data it was Macomb County with the lowest rates, in 2011 (the first year when per capita data was reported) the rate was 6.8 cases per 100,000 people and in 2017 (the most recent year for data) the rate increased to 11.8 syphilis cases per 100,000 people, or 148 cases.

Overall the trend remains that the number of STD cases continue to rise, with the 26 years of age and under population experiencing the largest number of cases, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. In the charts above you will see that Washtenaw County regularly falls in second or third in terms of rankings for the per capita rates of any one of the three infections discussed above. This likely has to do with the fact that Washtenaw County is home to both the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Overall, experts believe part of the rise is related to misinformation or overall lack of information on STDs. They urge those who are sexually active to be open and honest with both their partner(s) and health care providers about regular testing, and proper treatment if necessary, to ensure the STD isn’t spread to additional people. Information on ways to best prevent STDs, such as use of condoms, regular testing and abstinence, are also encouraged to be discussed more with all individuals, particularly those under the age of 26.

For more information on STD testing, prevention and other information click here

Monroe Most Obese County in Southeastern Michigan

The obesity rate in Michigan was at 32.3 percent in 2018, which is the most recent data from the United Health Foundation, which produces an annual federal health survey. This rate, according to the foundation, has been stable for the last several years but Michigan ranks as the 16th most obese state in the nation. At the county level, the most recent obesity data that is available is from 2015, and that data shows that of the seven counties in the region four of them are at or above the state’s obesity rate. Monroe County had the highest obesity rate regionally at 37 percent, followed by Wayne County at 34 percent. Macomb and St. Clair counties both had obesity rates of 32 percent. Washtenaw County had the lowest obesity rate at 24 percent.

Obesity can be linked to several factors, including overeating, medications, certain diseases and lack of physical inactivity. Those who are obese are also more likely to have certain diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Of course obesity is not the only factor contributing to these diseases. Below we explore the percentage of people who are physically inactive in Southeastern Michigan and the mortality rates of diseases linked to obesity.

Physical inactivity is one of the contributing factors  to obesity. Presented below is the percentage of residents in each county in Southeastern Michigan who said they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week in 2015. As is shown in the chart below, Monroe County had the highest percentage of physically inactive residents at 27.6 percent; Monroe County also had the highest obesity rate. St. Clair County had the second highest rate of physically inactive residents at 27.4 percent. Washtenaw County had the lowest percentage of residents who are physically inactive at 14.5 percent. Washtenaw County also had the lowest obesity rate.

With obesity comes several health risks, including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, mental illnesses (depression, anxiety) and an overall low quality of life. The three charts below show the mortality rates per 100,000 people for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Of course the mortality rates displayed below are not directly produced by obesity. However, note that the counties with higher obesity rates tend to have higher mortality rates for the diseases discussed.

For mortality rates linked to diabetes, St. Clair County had the highest rate at 83.3 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Wayne County at 71 deaths per 100,000 people and then Monroe County at 65.6 diabetes related deaths per 100,000 people. Livingston County had the lowest rate at 45.6 diabetes related deaths per 100,000 people.

Overall, heart disease has a much higher mortality rate than diabetes, and the county with the highest heart disease related mortality rate in 2017 was Wayne County at 257.4 per 100,000 people. Following Wayne County was St. Clair County with a rate at 225.7 deaths per 100,000 people and Macomb County with a heart disease mortality rate of 196.1 deaths per 100,000 people. Washtenaw County had the lowest rate at 151.7 deaths per 100,000 people.

Strokes had the lowest mortality rate of the three diseases discussed here. Wayne County had the highest rate at 41.2 deaths per 100,000. Oakland County had the second highest mortality rate from strokes at 37.4 deaths per 100,000, and Washtenaw County had the third highest rate at 34.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Monroe County had the lowest rate at 29 deaths per 100,000 people.

Overall, this post highlights obesity rates in Southeastern Michigan, along with one of the causes of obesity and diseases linked to it. Ways to prevent obesity include:

  1. Being physically active;

2. Being cognizant of both caloric intake and the type of foods making up your diet;

3. Being aware of how your emotional state affects your eating habits and how to ensure that these habits do not become unhealthy.

Real Estate Investments Strong in Southeastern Michigan

In September of 2019 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 3.5, a small decrease from the August unemployment rate of 4.2, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of  Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for September of 2018 was the same as it was this year in September, 3.5.

In September of 2019 Detroit’s unemployment rate was 8.5 percent.  That Detroit unemployment rate was 0.8 points lower in September of 2019 from the previous month. Also, the September 2019 unemployment rate for Detroit was 0.1 point higher from the previous year. In August of 2018 it was 8.4 percent.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for September of 2018 and 2019. In September of 2019 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 4.9. Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.

Monroe County was the only one to have a lower unemployment rate in September of 2019 compared to September of 2018. In 2018 Monroe County had an unemployment rate of 3.7 and in 2019 in decreased to 3.2.  For all the other counties in the region an unemployment rate increase between September of 2018 and 2019 was not above 0.2.

Real estate availability is another aspect of an area’s financial health. Below is information from the quarterly reports of Cushman and Wakefield, a global real estate firm, which produces information related to Metro-Detroit. According to the company, investments in Metro-Detroit have been strong in 2019. One instance cited for this is the investment Amazon is making in Pontiac at the old Silverdome site (1,500 jobs are expected to come with the purchasing and transition of the site). In the third quarter of 2019 Pontiac had a commercial vacancy rate of 13 percent, as shown in the second chart below. Southfield, the Grosse Pointes and Troy all had higher vacancy rates at 18.1 percent, 17.8 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. Ann Arbor had the lowest vacancy rate at 7.8 percent, followed by Macomb County at 8.7 percent. As one might expect Ann Arbor, with one of the lowest vacancy rates in the third quarter of 2019 also  one of the highest costs per square feet in the region at $23.25. The Birmingham/Bloomfield area was one of the only other areas in the region with a higher cost per square foot for commercial property at $25.41, while in the Grosse Pointes the average commercial property was priced at $25.02 per square foot. Macomb County had the lowest cost at per square foot at $16.97.


Breast Cancer in Southeastern Michigan

The month of October is Breast Awareness Month and in 2019, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it is estimated that there will be 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer, nationally. In addition, the foundation estimates that there will about 42,000 deaths from breast cancer in 2019. Breast cancer affects both men and women, but occurs at a much higher rate in women. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, there is an estimated 129.8 new cases of invasive breast per 100,000 women each year and in men that number is 1.2 cases per 100,000 men. Additionally, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more diagnoses of breast cancer in 2019 (9,310) than lung, colon, prostate, melanoma or bladder cancer. However, the American Cancer Society also estimates that lung, colon and pancreatic cancer have a higher mortality rate than female breast cancer.

The data shown in the maps below has been provided by the Michigan Department of Community Health and Services and was last updated in 2017. Additionally, the data focuses on women.  According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, breast cancer is the most common newly diagnosed cancer among women in Michigan. In 2017 there were about 8,160 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women in Michigan.

In 2017 St. Clair County had the highest rate of women with invasive breast cancer at 27.3 per 100,000 females, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health and Services. Wayne County had the second highest rate at 22 per 100,000 females and Oakland County had the lowest rate at 17.8 at 100,000 females. At the state level the rate for women with breast cancer was 19.2 in 2017. The only county below this rate in Southeastern Michigan was Oakland County.

Although not all women with breast cancer die from the disease, there are hundreds of deaths from the disease a year. In 2017 Wayne County had the highest number of deaths at 247 followed by Oakland County at 153 and Macomb County at 126. Regionally, Livingston County had the lowest number of deaths associated with invasive breast cancer at 18. These numbers are, generally, consistent with populations across these counties. In 2017 there was a total of 1,308 deaths associated with breast cancer across Michigan.

While breast cancer rates at the county level in Southeastern Michigan are are lower than those at the national level (129.8 cases per 100,000 women), it still causes significant number of deaths per year. Since the early 2000s the number of breast cancer deaths has declined, in large part due to increased mammogram screening. This month multiple health care organizations, such as Henry Ford, Beaumont and McLaren, are offering free mammograms to raise awareness and increase the chances of early detection. The risk of breast cancer increases with age, so as individuals grow older-particularly women- annual and regular testing becomes more and more important.

Economic Indicators: Percentage of Salaried, Wage Workers who are Union Members Decreases

In August of 2019 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.2, a small decrease from the July unemployment rate of 4.3, according to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of  Technology, Management and Budget. The State unemployment rate for August of 2018 was 0.3 points lower than what it was in August of 2019 (4.2).

The Detroit rate was 1.8 points lower in August of 2019 from the previous month. Also, the August 2019 unemployment rate for Detroit was 0.6 points lower from the previous year. In August of 2019 Detroit’s unemployment rate was 9.3 percent and in August of 2018 it was 9.9 percent.

The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for August of 2018 and 2019. In August of 2019 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.4. Washtenaw County had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.3.

Wayne and Monroe counties were the only two to have lower unemployment rates in August of 2019 compared to August of 2018; Monroe County experienced a 0.9 point decrease and Wayne County experienced a 0.4 point decrease. Among the remainder, none of the other five counties in the region experienced an unemployment increase of more than 0.2 between August of 2018 and August of 2019.

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 $129,220 in July 2019; this was $300 higher than the average family dwelling price in June. The July 2019 price was an increase of $4,980 from July of 2018 and an increase of $12,140 from July of 2017, an increase of $20,050 from July of 2016 and increase of  $25,880 from July of 2015 and, finally, an increase of 
$31,090 from July of 2014.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the percent of the workforce in Michigan that is a member of a union has gradually decreased since 2000. In 2000, 20.3 percent of employed wage and salary workers were represented by a union and in 2018 that dropped to 14.5 percent. The highest percent of union membership of the work force in that time frame was 21.9 percent. 

In the 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses report released by American Express, Detroit ranked as the top metropolitan area that increased a combination of its growth rates for the number of women-owned firms, employed women and their revenue. According to Crain’s Detroit, the number of women-owned businesses in the Metro-Detroit area grew from 157,090 in 2012 to 358,507 in 2019. Additionally, the number of women-owned businesses in the State of Michigan grew 29 percent between 2012 and 2019, with employment at those companies growing 4 percent and revenue growing by 20 percent.

Long-term Substitutes More Concentrated in Lower Income Areas

In Michigan there is a teacher shortage and often times long-term substitute teachers are seen as at least a temporary fix to the problem. The individuals who fill these positions are not required to have an education background and can end up leading a classroom for a full year, or more. According to data from the Michigan Department of Education, the number of long-term substitutes in Michigan schools has increased from 213 during the 2012-13 academic year to 2,538 for the 2018-19 year. For this post we explore the percentage of teachers that were long-term substitutes in the Southeastern Michigan school districts for the 2018-19 academic year; charter schools are not included.

At first glance, the map shows that majority of the districts in the seven county region had less than 2.5 percent of the teacher population at each district serving as long-term substitute teachers. In Washtenaw, St. Clair and Monroe counties not one of the public school districts had more than 2.5 percent of the teacher population made up of long-term substitutes. The county with the highest number of public school districts with higher percentages of long-term substitute teachers was Wayne County. In Wayne County, and regionally, South Redford School District had the highest percentage of long-term substitutes at 13.3 percent. Other districts in Wayne County with higher percentages of long-term substitute teachers were the River Rouge School District, Ecorse Public Schools and the Dearborn Heights School District. In Oakland County, the Berkley School District had 13.2 percent of its teacher population made up of long-term substitutes. According to a recent article by Bridge Magazine, school districts in areas with lower household incomes are more likely to have a higher percentage of long-term substitutes. This is also especially true for charter schools, which were not examined in this post but will be at a later time. Bridge Magazine’s analysis states that charter school students are four times more likely to have a long-term substitute as a teacher than a student in a traditional public school. Additionally, according to the article, low academic performing school districts are more than three times as likely to have long-term substitutes instead of certified teachers.

While this post highlights how in some areas of the Southeastern Michigan, and in the state, there is a shortage of certified teachers, additional information reveals that there are overall personnel shortages in school districts. From teachers to speech pathologists to adult education teachers, the State of Michigan has posted critical shortage openings for retirees to re-apply to so the positions can be filled. The list can be found here. That information, coupled with the long-term substitute data, further shows that education in Michigan is in need of assistance. With a critical need for teachers, at least in part due to stagnant and/or declining salaries, and overall lack of funding for education changes need to happen to ensure the students of Michigan are receiving the education they need and deserve.