According to a recent New York Times article, there is broader consensus on solutions to climate change than one may automatically think. For example, support for renewable energy is above 60 percent, nationally, and in theory about 70 percent of Americans support the idea of a carbon tax. To read more on these solutions and how the support varies across the country click here.
While there are only 10 communities in Southeastern Michigan with more than 21 percent of the population 65 years of age or older, the number of communities with a growing elderly population is far greater than those with a declining elderly population. According to the data, majority of the rural communities throughout Southeastern Michigan-Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston, St. Clair and northern Macomb and Oakland counties-have seen the greatest increases in a growing elderly population. Overall, St. Clair County’s elderly population grew the most between 2010 and 2016, with nine of the communities experiencing between 6 and 13 percent increases in the 65 years of age and older population. In St. Clair County, Algonac (21%), China Township (22%) and East China Township (26%) had the highest percentage of elderly residents in 2016. However, it was Lake Angelus, in northern Oakland County, that had the highest percentage of resident 65 years of age or older at 35 percent.
Detroit, and its inner and outer ring suburbs have the highest concentration of the aging population that is growing at a slower rate. As the second map below shows, majority of the Detroit suburbs did not experience a growth of the 65 years of age and older population above 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2016. In fact, some of those communities (Hamtramck, Grosse Pointe, Redford, Dearborn Heights) experienced an overall decline in the 65 years of age and older population between 2010 and 2016. In Detroit, the 65 years of age and older population only grew by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2016. According to the data, in 2010 the elderly population was at 11 percent and by 2016 it grew to 12.6 percent. In Hamtramck, the 65 years of age population decreased from 9.1 percent in 2010 to 7.8 percent in 2016.
According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, by 2025 the number of people above the age of 65 will outnumber those 17 and younger. Nationally, such a growth of the elderly population isn’t expected to occur until 2035. There are varying reasons for the growth of the 65 years of age and older population locally, and nationally, including better medical advancements allowing people to live longer and the decline in birth rates over the year. One reason for what appears to be the quicker growth of the aging population in Michigan though is the fact that over about the last decade, particularly during the Great Recession, people have left to find jobs elsewhere. So, in short, out-migration has contributed to the fact that Michigan’s elderly population will outnumber its younger population within the next decade.
We know that one of the outcomes of poverty and the consequent lack of high quality medical care is a shorter life. How big is that difference in Southeastern Michigan? It turns out that new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control gives us an idea. That data, at the Census Tract level, shows that average life expectancy ranges from 62 in some inner city Detroit tracts to 90 in some suburban tracts.
As the second first map below shows, most of Livingston County was in the 76-80 years of age range, although there are 18 Census Tracts in Livingston County where the average life expectancy is between 86 to 90 years of age. It is in Wayne County where all the Census Tracts are located, with the exception of one, with the lowest average life expectancies. As the second map shows, in the City of Detroit, there are 14 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 62-65 years of age. Additionally, there are about 40 Census Tracts where the average life expectancy is between 68-70. Most of these Census Tracts are located west of Highland Park, with several located along Grand River Avenue. The only other Census Tract in the region with an average life expectancy below 66 years of age is in Monroe County in the City of Monroe.
The extremes of the data are attenuated when we examine county averages as shown in the third map. The average life expectancy in Southeastern Michigan at the county level ranges from 74.5 years of age to 79.6 years of age. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.8 years of age. At the county level, Livingston County has the highest average life expectancy at 79.6 years of age.
While there is no specific information on what causes low life expectancy in any specific area, a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said higher life expectancies are often related to higher education and access to health care and healthy food. In future posts we will examine what may cause the lower life expectancies in the Detroit area.
The City of Detroit had the highest HIV rate per 100,000 people in the Metro-Detroit region, according to the most recent data released by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The rate per 100,000 people as of January 2018 was 718. Regionally, Wayne County (excluding the City of Detroit) had the second highest rate per 100,000 people at 190. Livingston County had the lowest rate in the region at 54 per 100,000 people. While there is no single reason as to why Detroit has such a high HIV rate (more than four times that of the State’s average rate) there is belief among experts, according to a recent Detroit Free Press article, that it is tied to socioeconomic factors like poverty, health care access and transportation for health care access. In Detroit, according to the most recent Census data, 57 percent of the population has public health insurance coverage and 15 percent has no health insurance. According to a recent Detroit Free Press article, the number of new people diagnosed with HIV cases Michigan has remained fairly stable since the early 2000s, but there has been an increase in the number of young African American gay and bisexual men who have been diagnosed in recent years. Additionally, of those diagnosed with HIV in the State of Michigan, about 51 percent are between the ages of 40-59 years old and 78 percent of Michigan’s population living with HIV are males.
While medical advancements are being made toward finding a cure for HIV, that has yet to occur. Rather, to control and prevent the virus from evolving into AIDS, those diagnosed need to carefully and consistently treat the disease. In Detroit, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, about 20 percent of the diagnosed HIV population goes without regular treatment. Reasons for this are not concrete but it can be speculated that it is related to income, access to health care and overall knowledge on the disease and its treatment. For example, the average lifetime cost for HIV treatment is estimated to be about $400,000 and the annual median income in Detroit is about $26,000. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services those most likely to not receive consistent care in Michigan are: those between the ages of 20-29 (23 percent not receiving treatment), foreign-born individuals (32 percent), Hispanic males (25 percent) and those who inject drugs (23 percent).
Although the numbers show that those becoming infected with HIV remains a problem, funding at the State level has dropped over the years. In 2017 $19.4 million was allocated towards assisting those with HIV (medication, medical transportation and services). In Detroit, and throughout the region, there are several options for an individual to receive help. For more information, click here.
- The State and City of Detroit’s unemployment rates decreased at the monthly and annual levels;
- Regionally, August 2018 unemployment rates are lower than the prior year, with the exception of Macomb and Wayne counties;
- Housing prices continue to rise in Metro-Detroit.
- New building permits being pulled regionally decreasing
In August of 2018 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan was 4.1, a small decrease from the July 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 August of 2017 was 0.5 points above what it was in August of 2018.
The Detroit rate was 0.2 points lower in August of 2018 than in August of 2017. Also, the August 2018 unemployment rate for Detroit was 1.7 points lower than what it was the previous month (July 2017).
The chart above displays the unemployment rates for each of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan for August of 2017 and 2018. In August of 2018 Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate at 5.3, with Monroe County having the second highest regional unemployment rate 4.5. These two counties were the only two in the region to have unemployment rates at or above 4.5 in August of 2018. Conversely, Oakland, Washtenaw and Livingston counties all had unemployment rates at or below 3.5 in August of 2018.
Regionally, Livingston County had the lowest unemployment rate in August of 2018 at 3. Livingston County also had the lowest unemployment rate in August of 2017 at 3.6 while Monroe County had the highest unemployment rate in August of 2017 at 5.7.
When comparing 2017 and 2018, Wayne and Macomb counties are the only two where the unemployment rate was higher in 2018 than in 2017. For Macomb County, in August of 2017 the unemployment rate was 3.9 and for 2018 it was 3.8. For Wayne County there was also a 1.0 difference, from 4.3 in 2017 up to 5.3 in 2018.
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 $124,240 in July 2018; this was $510 higher than the average family dwelling price in June. The July 2018 price was an increase of $7,160 from July of 2017 and an increase of $15,070 from July of 2016, an increase of $20,900 from July of 2016 and increase of $26,110 from July of 2014.
While home prices have been growing in Southeastern Michigan, a recent Detroit News article detailed how construction is slowing down, largely in part due to land and labor shortages and the associated costs. Also according to the article, August housing permits for single-family home construction decreased by 1.8 percent statewide compared to this time last year. This 1.8 percent increase was nearly the same as it was at this time last year (from 2016 to 2017), but for 2016 that annual increase was about 10 percent, according to the article.
The chart below highlights how around 2011 the number of single family home building permits issued in each county in the region began to increase, spiking in about 2013. Then, more recently, Oakland, Wayne, Monroe and St. Clair counties experienced another increase in the number of permits pulled in 2017. However, the 2018 numbers, which are not complete for the year, do indicate that year end numbers will not compare with 2017. With only three months left in the year, and construction season slowing down for winter, it is likely many, if not all the counties in the region will not increase the annual number of building permits pulled over 2017.
Despite some regional housing growth, the Detroit News article indicated that affordable single family homes, particularly ones geared toward first-time buyers, are lacking in inventory in the region.
In Southeastern Michigan, Wayne County had both the highest average payment per person for the state’s food assistance program and the highest number of both adult recipients and child recipients, according to 2018 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Michigan Food Assistance Program is a temporary food assistance program for eligible low-income families and individuals; the program is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the federal level this program is referred to as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
According to the data, thus far in 2018 Wayne County had 244,821 adult recipients of the state’s food assistance program and 178,744 child recipients. Wayne County also had the highest average food assistance payment per person at $132. Macomb County had the second highest number of recipients in 2018, according to the data. In 2018 Macomb had 62,109 adult recipients and 39,179 child recipients. However, Macomb County did not have the second highest average food assistance payment per person. Rather, Oakland County had the second highest average payment at $124. Livingston County had the lowest total of both adult and child recipients (4,449 and 2,652 respectively) and the lowest average payment per person at $119. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the average monthly Food Assistance Program payment to Michigan residents in fiscal year 2017 was $125; Wayne County was the only county in the region above this average. Average payments are based on how close to, or below, the poverty line an individual or family are. The higher poverty level of an individual or family means they will likely receive more funding for food assistance.
The maps below further demonstrate why Wayne County had the highest number of Food Assistance Program recipients. Despite the data below being from 2016 (the state did not have data at the municipal or Census tract level and the most recent data from the Census is from 2016), the first map below highlights how Detroit, Highland Park, Inkster, Ecorse and Lincoln Park all have more than 29 percent of the cities’ households receiving food assistance. Outside of the Wayne County, the only other communities with more than 29 percent of its households on the food assistance program were Pontiac in Oakland County and Port Huron in St. Clair County.
In 2016, 42 percent of residents were on the Food Assistance Program (also known as SNAP/Food Stamps) in Detroit, with the concentrations being along some of the City’s main corridors, including Gratiot and Grand River avenues. There were more than 30 Census tracts where between 58 and 83 percent of the families living there were on the state’s food assistance program; these Census tracts were spread throughout the City. On the other hand, there were only about a dozen Census tracts in the City where 22 percent of the families living there were on the food assistance program; these Census tracts were right along the Detroit River and on the City’s northwest side.
As the data in this post shows, the State’s food assistance program is used by thousands of families in the region. With the state’s new requirement that individuals on the food assistance program must work it will be interesting to see how and if the program numbers shift.
Throughout Southeastern Michigan public transportation to get to work is utilized by less than 2 percent of the population in almost every community, according to 2016 Census data. The only community in Southeastern Michigan where more than 11 percent the population utilizes public transportation to travel to work is Highland Park. According to the data, 17.5 percent of the Highland Park population utilized public transportation to travel to work in 2016. It should be noted that Highland Park also has the lowest median income and highest poverty levels in Southeastern Michigan. Additionally, Highland Park has both Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) stops in the city. Next to Highland Park, Detroit, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have the next highest public transportation usage rates for commuting to work, ranging from 5 to 11 percent. These areas also have access to dedicated public transportation systems. For example, in Detroit there is DDOT, which also collaborates with SMART, and in Ann Arbor there is the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.
While there are dedicated public transportation systems throughout Southeastern Michigan, they do not service all of the region. This fact is particularly showcased in the map above; nearly all of the green communities have no or limited access to public transportation. In some areas, like throughout much of Monroe, St. Clair, Livingston and Washtenaw counties, there are no sources of public transportation even offered to community members. While in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties access to public transportation is offered, but communities must vote on whether or not to support and utilize the services, such as with the SMART votes (how this service works is detailed here).
Understanding the region’s transit system, or lack there of, is important when reading about the usage of public transportation. When viewing just the numbers it could easily be argued a regional transit system isn’t needed because of the low percentage of users. However, further knowledge on public transportation in Southeastern Michigan shows that there is actually a lack of access, connectivity and education on the economic and community benefits related to public transportation.
The fate of public transit in Southeastern Michigan continues to remain unknown. While the Suburban Mobility Authority For Regional Transportation (SMART) millage passed in communities throughout Oakland and Wayne counties and, just barely, in Macomb County the cohesion amongst public figures and, most importantly, the public continues to disintegrate. The continued outspoken opposition against the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) by Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel tend to gain the most attention, but the near death of public transit in Macomb County should speak even louder. In Macomb County, when a SMART millage goes before voters the entire county must either approve or vote it down. Just last month the voters of Macomb County were asked to approve a SMART millage renewal. The voters did approve the millage renewal, but by a mere 23 votes, even though Hackel was urging for a “yes” vote on this proposal. Four years ago though, when Macomb County voters were asked to approve a millage increase, from 0.59 mills to 1 mill, the passage rate was 60 percent. This approval came before the 2016 RTA millage request that ultimately failed. This RTA millage proposal passed in Wayne and Washtenaw counties, where support was a given, and continues, by the elected officials and businesses, while it failed in Macomb and Oakland counties.
Two years later, officials still can’t come to a consensus on what the RTA proposal should be, which is why it will not appear on the November ballot.
The stories amongst elected officials remain the same, Patterson and Hackel don’t support transit in the form of the RTA, Wayne and Washtenaw county and Detroit officials see the need to expand on current systems and the messaging transit advocates have tried to push for years is not getting through. With the SMART millage passage transit options will continue to be provided in areas of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Additionally, the Detroit Department of Transportation and SMART continue to strengthen their relationship to provider faster and broader connectivity for transit users. However, the negativity propagated about regional transit from Patterson and Hackel seems to be trickling down to voters. It is vital that regional community, meaning the voters, comes together to push for a robust system that allows citizens greater opportunities to travel to jobs, educational institutions and health care providers. There must be support for a system that encourages economic growth, and most importantly, breaks down barriers that currently exist in Southeastern Michigan. To do this, citizens need to educate themselves on both sides of the regional transit debate, grow their understanding on what transit means for a region and not be afraid to speak against the loudest in the room.
As to public officials, one wonders when those officials who do support transit—those in Wayne County, Washtenaw County and Detroit—will realize that they can innovate without their recalcitrant neighbors to the north. A thriving transit system propelled by these governments will support the rapidly evolving growth economy along the east-west axes of I-94 and I-96/U.S. 23, even if our northern neighbors wish to lag. Let’s proceed intelligently and incrementally, if regional and rational are not feasible at this time.
The Suburban Mobility Authority For Regional Transportation (SMART) received a vote of confidence from the tri-county region for its four-year 1 mill millage renewal, which was also a slight increase for communities in Macomb and Oakland counties (the increase request was due to Headlee amendment rollbacks in previous years that brought original 1 mill rate slightly below that). However, even though election results show the SMART millage passed in Macomb County and in areas of Oakland and Wayne counties on Aug. 7, 2018, there were questions if that was really the case. In mid-August the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance requested a partial recount of the Macomb County SMART millage vote because the millage proposal only passed by 39 votes. According to the election results, 77,500 Macomb County voters were in favor of the millage renewal and increase and 77,461 Macomb County voters cast a ballot against the proposal. With a 50 percent passage rate, the group felt a recount was needed to ensure the results were accurate. On Aug. 29 the group stopped the partial recount because it became evident that there would not be enough “no” votes to overturn the originally approved millage approval, according to a Michigan Radio news article.
In Wayne County the SMART millage had a 73 percent passage rate, with 78,943 of the voters in favor of the millage renewal and slight increase. Oakland County had the highest pass rate at 77 percent, with 123,435 of the voters in favor of the proposal and 36,723 of the voters voting against it.
SMART, which is the region’s only existing transportation system outside of the Detroit Department of Transportation’ system, was created in 1967. As is evident by the maps above, the system operates throughout the tri-county region, but not necessarily in every community. Due to the way SMART initiatives can be placed on the county ballots (by individual counties), Macomb County is the only county in which the entire county (50 percent or more) must support a SMART millage in order for it to approved. This is why such a close approval rate for the Aug. 7 millage, and the potential of a recall, were vital for Macomb County, it’s either all or nothing. Unlike Macomb County, Oakland and Wayne counties communities have the option to “opt-out” of supporting the authority. In the second map above, data on approval rates for all Macomb County communities is available, and only partial information is available for Oakland County communities. For the Oakland County communities, these are the “opt-in” communities that approved the SMART proposal.
No data was available for the Wayne County communities through the Wayne County Election’s Office website; the only information available was the pass/fail rate for the millage proposal for the whole county.
In Macomb County, the cities of Grosse Pointe Shores and Eastpointe had the highest passage rates at 61 percent. Ray Township had the lowest approval rate at 31 percent, according to the results. As noted, all the Oakland County communities on the second map above had approval rates above 50 percent, because they “opted in” to use the SMART service. Of those communities, Huntington Woods had the highest approval rate at 90 percent and Walled Lake had the lowest at 70 percent.
While SMART continues to be the only regional transit authority in Southeastern Michigan, this recent election confirms again that the region has a lot of room to grow in providing equal and equitable transportation services throughout the region. If Macomb County voters did not pass the millage request, public transportation in the county would likely have ceased to exist. And, in many parts throughout Oakland and Wayne counties transportation gaps are huge.
Suicide rates in the State of Michigan have been increasing, and data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services shows that suicide rates in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties have contributed to that increase. Between 2006 and 2016, Macomb County experienced the highest increase for all ages at a rate of 3.2 per 100,000 residents. Macomb County went from a rate of 10.2 in 2006 to 13.4 in 2016. In 2016 the suicide rate in for Oakland County was 11 per 100,000, a slight increase in the rate of 0.2. For Wayne County the rate was 11.9 per 100,00, an increase in the rate of 1.8. All three counties had a lower suicide rate in 2016 than state’s rate of 13.5 per 100,000.
Data for Livingston, Monroe, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties is not used in this post because it was only reported on a 5-year-average from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and this data is reported on an annual basis.
While the under 25 years of age population had among the lowest suicide rates of the age categories examined in this post, it did have the highest rate increases of the categories between 2006 and 2016. For the State of Michigan in 2016, the suicide rate for those under the age of 25 was 6.9 per 100,000 resident; this was an increase of 3.4 from 2006. Wayne County was the only county of the three (Wayne, Oakland and Macomb) with a higher suicide rate for the 25 and under population than the State of Michigan. According to the data, Wayne County’s suicide rate for the under 25 years of age population was 8.1 per 100,000 residents, an increase in the rate of 4.2 from 2006. With a rate increase of 4.2, Wayne County also had the highest rate increase in the tri-county region.
For the 25-74 years of age population, the suicide rate in the State of Michigan was 17.1 per 100,000 residents. Macomb County was the only county in the tri-county area with a rate higher than the state’s. The Macomb County suicide rate was 17.5 per 100,000 residents, a rate increase of 3.2 from 2006. Oakland County was the only one to experience a rate decrease for the 25-74 years of age population between 2006 and 2016. The rate decrease for Oakland County during that time period was -1 per 100,000. Oakland County’s suicide rate for the 25-74 year population was 13.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016.
For the 75 years of age and older population, Macomb County was again the only one in the tri-county region with a rate above the State’s. In 2016, Macomb County’s rate was 18.1 per 100,000 residents and the State’s was 16.4 per 100,000 residents. Macomb County experienced a rate increase of 7.8 between 2006 and 2016 while the State experienced a rate increase of 2.3. On the other hand, Oakland and Wayne counties both experienced rate decreases between 2006 and 2016. The suicide rate decrease for the 75 years of age and older population for Oakland County was 4.2 and for Wayne County it was 3.8.
Over the last 20 years, according to a recent Center for Disease Control study, the suicide rate in Michigan has increased about 33 percent, which is slightly higher than the national increase during the same time frame. That report further states that more than 20 percent of individuals who commit suicide have no known history of mental health conditions. Rather, substance abuse and relationship issues are often cited as factors.