Changes in poverty:Michigan and Metro-Detroit

From 1980 to 2010 the U.S. poverty rate has remained between about 11 and 15 percent. The only times it reached about 15 percent was in 1983, 1993, and most recently, in 2010. In the last two decades the lowest poverty rate experienced was in 2000 when it was at 11.3 percent. Since that time though the poverty rate in the U.S. has slowly increased to 15.1 percent.

For a definition of the poverty rate visit the U.S. Census Bureau here.

There have been about the same amount of peaks in the poverty rate in Michigan as there have been in the country. Michigan has also experienced poverty rates above those at the national level several times. For example, in 1983 when the U.S. poverty rate was at 15.1 percent Michigan’s was at 16.8 percent and in 2010 the U.S. poverty rate was 15.1 percent and Michigan’s was 15.5 percent. In the last two decades, Michigan experienced its highest poverty rate in 1983 and its lowest in 2001, when it was at 9.4 percent. Since 2001, the lowest poverty rate the state has reached was 10.8 percent, which was in 2007. From 2007 to 2010 the poverty rate continued to increase until it reached 15.5 percent.

The poverty levels in Wayne County have consistently remained higher than those in Oakland and Macomb counties. From 1997 to 2000 the percent of people in poverty were nearly overlapping in Oakland and Macomb counties. From 2000 to 2006 though, the poverty rates in Oakland County fell below those in Macomb County. But, in 2007 there was a change. The poverty rate in Macomb County remained steady from 2006 to 2007 while the poverty rate in Oakland County increased from 6.9 to 8.9 percent, bringing it above Macomb’s 8.3 percent. In 2008 though it dropped down to 8.6 percent, which was below Macomb County’s poverty rate of 9.4 percent. Oakland County’s poverty level has since remained lower than those in Macomb County and Wayne County. In Wayne County the poverty level began to decline from 1997 to 2000 (it went from 18 to 14 percent). By 2010 Wayne County’s poverty rate had increased to 24 percent, an all time high.
Although the Census only provides consecutive poverty rates for the City of Detroit from 2005 to 2010, the information on these six years show that Detroit’s poverty rate has remained above national, state, and county poverty levels.  From 2005 to 2010 Detroit’s poverty levels ranged from about 31 to 36 percent, the highest being in 2010.  The 2000 Census states that Detroit’s poverty rate was 26.1 percent in 1999; it was 11.9 percent in the U.S. at that time and 10 percent in Michigan.

As shown in the chart, the City of Detroit has a much higher poverty rate than the state, region, and country. Michigan and the U.S. had very similar rates, but Detroit’s poverty rate was at 35.5 percent, more than double any of the other areas.

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