Park Land is Plentiful in Southeastern Michigan

In Southeastern Michigan there are more than 2,300 parks which are owned and operated by either the federal government, State of Michigan, a local municipality, the Huron Clinton Metroparks Authority or a private entity. The footprint of these parks covers more than 214,000 acres and much of these parks are concentrated in the more heavily populated areas of Southeastern Michigan, such as Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. For example, in the City of Detroit there are 359 total parks, which range in size, type (passive, active, trails, etc.) and ownership (city, state, private).  Parks are viewed as an essential service because they increase economic value, provide health and environmental benefits and create an aspect of community, allowing for greater socialization. Furthermore, understanding how accessible parks and recreation amenities are can help communities prioritize improvements that serve more people.

In Southeastern Michigan 1,847 of the parks in the region, or 80 percent, are owned and operated by local municipalities. For example, of the 359 parks in Detroit about 350 are owned and operated by the City itself, the others are owned and operated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources or private entities. Private entities in the region own and operate the second highest number of parks in the region, followed by counties. The way in which counties prioritize parks in the region varies greatly. For example, in Macomb County there are only two county parks—Freedom Hill, which serves as an entertainment center, and the Macomb Orchard Trail, which is a 26 mile long multiuse path that is overseen by a board comprised of a county representative and one person from each community that also pays into the system. In Oakland County there are 13 parks and in Washtenaw County there are well over 20 different parks, many of which are nature preserves.

Public parks are largely funded by public monies and each municipality’s priorities are reflected in how their dollars are spent. So, in the case of Washtenaw and Oakland counties, for example, we see that the counties themselves place a higher priority on access to parks. The emphasis on parks and recreation opportunities in communities can not only be seen by how the general fund dollars are allocated to such amenities, but also by if there are additional taxes voted on by residents to further increase parks and recreation amenities and access to them.

While funding allocations to parks differ from one county, and community, to the next, we do know that access to parks in the region is easily attainable for most. As noted, majority of the parks are concentrated in more heavily populated areas, but according to the Southeastern Michigan Council of Government’s (SEMCOG) 2019 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, parks and recreation opportunities are accessible within a 10-minute drive for nearly every household in the region. Additionally, according to the study, a 10-minute bike ride provides access to parks for 89 percent of households in the region. The study does show that for 42 percent of households in the region access to parks within 10 minutes of walking or use public transportation is not attaintable, posing a barrier of access to those who may not have a reliable use of their transportation. The lack of a strong public transportation system in the region does prove to be problematic for those who want/need reliable access to parks, especially the region’s largest parks. Since larger parks are located in less populated areas those without reliable transportation of their own, who may rely on public transportation, will have greater difficulty in reaching the larger parks. SEMCOG’s Access to Core Services report state that 7 percent of all households and 13 percent of transit-dependent households are within a 30-minute transit trip to a park greater than 200 acres in size.

The maps below highlight where parks are located in the region.

As noted, parks are viewed as an essential amenity within a community. However, funding to maintain and improve parks and recreation amenities is also vital to ensure such access. While we know majority of the region can access parks and recreation opportunities currently, we will further look into some of the funding structures that allow for such access in a later post and evaluate their long-term viability. We will also look deeper into the access of parks as it relates to the socioeconomic makeups of communities in Southeastern Michigan.

Heat Islands and Their Existence in Metro-Detroit

Trees—we literally can’t live without them. While the oxygen they provide is critical, they do much more. We won’t get into all the deep-rooted details here today, but we will address how a healthy tree canopy can decrease heat island effects. A heat island, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, is an area where heat is intensified due to structures, such as buildings and roads, that absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat far more than natural landscapes, such as forests and bodies of water. Urban areas, where these structures are highly concentrated and greenery is limited, become “islands” of higher temperatures relative to the outlying areas. Temperatures in such heat islands can be 1 to 7 degrees higher than neighboring areas. The Detroit metropolitan area contains heat islands.

According to Vibrant Cities Lab, the City of Detroit has a 31 percent tree canopy coverage, and the American Forests organization recommends Detroit have at least a 40 percent tree canopy coverage. Without a healthy tree canopy residents of heat island areas often face:

•             Increased energy consumption

•             Elevated emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases

•             Increased risk to heat related illnesses

American Forests also created a Tree Equity Score data set that describes the equity of tree cover across urban areas within the United States. The data assigns a “tree equity score” to each census block group within a city based on various factors. The tree canopy gap, defined as the potential amount of tree canopy in a given area minus the existing tree canopy is the basis for the score. The score is calculated using local physical and socioeconomic factors such as income, employment, age, race, and health, and the severity of the existing urban heat island. The Tree Equity Score is on a scale of 0-100, with a lower score meaning there is a greater priority for closing the tree canopy gap. American Forests’ goal is to see every block group have a score of 75.

METRO DETROIT TREE EQUITY SCORES

The map above shows the Tree Equity scores for much of Metro-Detroit at the municipal level. In Southeastern Michigan, at the municipal level, no community with a Tree Equity score has one less than 59, which is Carelton in Monroe County. Bloomfield Hills has a Tree Equity Score of 100, as does Bingham Farms, the highest in the region. Detroit has a score of 80, which is higher than the recommended score of 75, but a deeper look at the Detroit’s neighborhoods shows that some blocks have a score as low as 36.

According to research from Portland State University, the Science Museum of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, redlined neighborhoods are hotter than the highest-rated neighborhoods by an average of almost 5 degrees. According to the article “Residential Housing Segregation and Urban Tree Canopy in 37 US Cities,”  23 percent of the redlined areas in 37 major cities (including Detroit) have a healthy tree canopy, as opposed to the 43 percent tree coverage in areas that were not redlined. 

While efforts are underway in Detroit, and the Metro region, to increase tree coverage heat islands, and the concerns around them, still exist. The maps below from the City of Detroit show the heat vulnerability index by Detroit Census tracts and the prioritized Census tracts in Detroit where tree planting should occur. The Census tracts with the highest vulnerability scores (6.6-7.7) also are also the ones being prioritized for tree plantings. Why? Well, simply put, more trees in a neighborhood mean a cooler neighborhood. It also means improved air quality and can also assist with improved water quality.

With climate change not only happening, but accelerating, priorities must be placed programs such as increased tree plantings in urban areas, green infrastructure, solar panels, windmills and electric vehicles.

Broadband Not Accessible for All in Metro-Detroit

Even in the age of the internet, accessibility is limited for many, including in Southeastern Michigan.

According to the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), there are about 1.6 billion homes in the seven county region with broadband and about 250,000 without it. In other words about 87 percent of homes in the region have internet and 13 percent are without it.

Access to broadband connectivity is two-fold though.

In a small percentage of the region there is no connectivity. In Southeastern Michigan, 99 percent of homes have access to broadband and 1 percent do not; this equals to out about 1.9 homes having access to broadband and about 10,000 not having access. The first map below highlights where any kind of access to the internet lacks. Each county in the region is affected, with very small neighborhoods in even some of the most populated areas (Detroit, Canton, West Bloomfield, etc.) experiencing some dead zones. However, the more rural areas in the region (north Macomb County, western Livingston and western Washtenaw counties) and several areas throughout St. Clair and Macomb counties) have much larger areas where access to broadband does not exist. While the land area where access is lacking looks large, the population that lives in these areas must also be considered. As noted, overall, there are about 10,000 people who do not have access to the internet due to service not existing where they live.

The first chart below highlights those who are underserved by broadband, which not only includes those who do not have access to broadband at all but also those who do not have access to highspeed internet (meaning they may have access to slower internet that does not allow for extensive streaming, downloading, etc.). St. Clair County has the highest percentage of homes that are underserved at  7.1 percent, followed by Monroe County where 2.5 percent of homes are underserved. Oakland County has the lowest percentage of homes that are underserved at 0.4 percent.

***All data in this post is provided by SEMCOG***

While the existence of broadband infrastructure is a concern, so is overall access, especially for those who have limited access to the infrastructure. The chart below shows the percentage of homes that do not use the internet. Wayne County has the highest percentage of homes that do not use the internet at 19 percent and, conversely, Washtenaw County has the lowest percentage of homes that do not use the internet at 7 percent.

Factors that play into a home being able to obtain broadband include income, age and race. For example, in Wayne County, 49 percent of households with an average income of $20,000 a year or less do not have the internet. This income bracket has the highest percentage of homes without internet across the region. When examining aging groups that data shows that 33 percent of the 65-years-of-age and older population does not have the internet; this is the age bracket with the highest percentage of individuals without access. And, finally, 13 percentage of the black population in Wayne County does not use the internet. Blacks have  the highest percentage of non-usage in Wayne County, and in every other county in the region.

Access to the internet is vital for many. This was fully demonstratated when COVID made remote work and school a necessity. As our society continues to evolve, access to this lifeline must become more accessibility to the population despite their location, income, race and age. As the data shows, race, income and age certainly play a factor in accessibility so breaking down those barriers must be a priority, as should developing stronger infrastructure in more rural areas. 

Locally, Washtenaw County has committed more than $13 million in American Rescue Act Funding to expand affordable and equitable high-speed broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved communities. This is part of a larger investment by Washtenaw County which is focused on connecting every to high-speed broadband infrastructure.

Additionally, the City of Detroit is creating a test fiber-to-the-home connectivity project in Hope Village. This project will connect about 2,000 homes to affordable service. This project is also being funded by the American Rescue Act.

With millions of dollars dispersed to every county in American Rescue Act Funding, this should certainly become a priority for more places than just Washtenaw County.

Inflation Continues to Impact Standard of Living

Michigan’s unemployment continues to decrease, for the tenth straight month, and the labor force in the state continues to grow. This year is looking much rosier than in 2020 when great uncertainty riddled the state, and the country. With job recovery following the peak of the pandemic, and an increase in revenues from the sales and use tax and federal funding the state is predicting about a $5 million surplus. While such a surplus can viewed as a sign of improved economic times, we must also recognize inflation is on the rise, and uncertainty still looms with COVID and the war in Ukraine. Recognizing that inflation is hitting the homes of most, if not all, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was proposed sending $500 to working Michigan families in attempt to help ease the strain on our pockets. The Republic led majority legislature is discussing a $2.5 billion plan that would cut taxes. What will happen remains unknown, especially as the project surplus is just an estimate.

But the data below does tell that story that Michigan’s economy is on the rise while the costs of goods and services is also on the rise.

Unemployment rates in Michigan and the City of Detroit remain lower than they were during the peak of the pandemic, and recent data shows a continued trend of them remaining fairly stable.

In March of 2022 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan declined to 4.4 percent from the 5.3 percent it was reported at for February of 2022. In March of 2021 the unemployment rate was reported at 5.2 percent, which was only slightly higher than it was reported at a year later.

For the City of Detroit, the unemployment rate for March of 2022 was 10 percent, an decrease from the 12.2 percent it was reported at the month prior. When comparing it to the March of 2021 unemployment rate (9.3 percent) we see that the rate was slightly lower last year than this year.

As noted above, unemployment rates, typically, remain lower now than a year ago, and certainly two years ago. When examining the data at the county level for March 2022 and March 2021 we see that each county in Southeastern Michigan had a lower unemployment rate in 2022. Wayne County experienced the largest decline between 2021 and 2021; in March of 2021 Wayne County’s unemployment rate was 8.5 and by 2022 it declined to 5.8. Wayne County also had the highest unemployment rates in both March of 2021 and 2022.
The charts below show the percent changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on a month-to-month basis and a year-to-year basis for each month in years 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 in the Midwest Region. The CPI is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, energy, housing and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined group of goods and averaging them.

The first  chart below highlights how the CPI changed on a month-to-month basis between 2019 and 2022. Currently in 2021, the region’s prices were  up 0.8 percent in April, with higher prices for:
•Public transportation and shelter (up 0.2 percent)
•New vehicles  (up 1 percent)
•The increased price was partially offset by lower prices for used cars and trucks and apparel
•Overall, prices without considering food and energy prices, rose by 0.4 percent from the month prior.
The energy prices did not increase overall from the month prior due to a 1.3 percent decline in gasoline prices of 1.3 percent, but there was a 3.1 percent increase in the index for natural gas and a 0.5 percent increase for the energy index.

Overall food prices did increase between March and April though at 1.3 percent, with food prices at home increasing 1.5 percent and food away from home increasing at 1.1 percent.

When examining the second chart, which shows how prices changed on a year-to-year basis,  we see how prices continue to increase in 2022, with the April year-to-year CPI being the among highest increase shown below. In fact, all of 2022 CPI changes have been the highest reported in several years.
In April of 2022 the CPI was reported to be 8.2 percent above what it was the year prior. Contributing factors to the continued increase in the CPI include
•Food prices increasing 11.2 percent over the last year
•Energy prices increasing 26.8 percent over the last year.
•New and used motor vehicles increasing 18.4 percent
•Shelter increasing 4.9 percent
•And household furnishings and operations increasing 10.8 percent.
Just as inflation continues to increase, so does the price of homes in the Metro Detroit area. According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold was $166,060 in February of 2022; this was $2,720 higher than the average family dwelling price in January. The February 2022 price was an increase of $21,210 from February of 2021 and $72,640 from February of 2014.

Induced Abortions in Michigan: The Numbers

Recent news that that Roe v. Wade may be overturned in an upcoming US Supreme Court ruling has many examining how such a decision will affect individuals across the country. In Michigan, a 1931 law that defines abortion as a felony could go into affect. This 91-year-old law states that it is illegal to perform abortions in many circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest; it also states that it is illegal to use drugs to induce abortions.

Currently, with Roe v. Wade, still standing, women are legally able to obtain abortions in Michigan with some restrictions, including:

•That a patient must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage the patient from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided;

•What coverage, if any, an insurance policy provides (according to the Michigan Department of Community Health 96 percent of reported induced abortions had a self pay source of payment);

•The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided;

•An abortion may be performed at or after viability only if the patient’s life is endangered.

Not only would Michigan be one of at least 26 states where access to safe abortions would be heavily restricted, but thousands of women would be negatively impacted.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, there were 29,669 induced abortions in Michigan in 2020, which was a rate of 15.8 induced abortions per 1,000 Michigan women aged 15-44. This is the highest induced abortion rate in Michigan since 1993, when a rate of 16.1 induced abortions per 1,000 Michigan women aged 15-44 was performed.

When delving further into Michigan’s induced abortion data we see that majority of women were 25 years of age or older. According to the data, 32 percent of Michigan women who had an induced abortion were 30 years of age or older, and 31 percent of women were between the ages of 25-29. Eight percent of women who had an induced abortion were 20 years of age or younger.

Additionally, of those induced abortions performed in Michigan in 2020 nearly 90 percent were performed in freestanding outpatient surgical facilities. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were 30 facilities providing abortions in Michigan in 2017, and 21 of those were clinics. Also in 2017, about 87 percent of Michigan counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 35% of Michigan women lived in those counties.

The data presented in this post shows that many women have abortions for many reasons—including for their health and safety. Every year, the women who chose to have an induced abortion are able to receive one in legal surgical facilities and often pay for the procedure out-of-pocket, as highlighted above. With the possible overruling of Roe v. Wade, thousands of Michigan women, and women across the country, could very well lose the option to have a safe, and legal induced abortion.

In anticipation of the ruling, some options to safeguard legal and safe abortions are occurring: 1)Gov. Gretchen Whitmer filed a lawsuit in April of 2022 calling the Michigan Supreme Court to recognize that the Michigan constitution affords women reproductive rights and agency over their bodies. 2)Planned Parenthood has filed a similar lawsuit, through the Michigan Court of Claims, seeking to declare that the state’s constitution protects reproductive autonomy. 3)A petition drive launched by Reproductive Freedom for All seeks to amend the state constitution to affirm abortion rights. In order to place this on the November ballot 424,000 valid signatures are needed by mid-July. ●

Another means to safeguard abortion access in Michigan would be through approved legislation by the state legislature. Bills to repeal the 1931 ban have been introduced, but not brought forward for a vote.

Child Homelessness in Michigan is Real

Child homelessness in Michigan is real.

According to the University of Michigan, in more than 40 percent of Michigan’s schools more than 10 percent of students struggle with homelessness during the school year. Furthermore, it is believed that even those numbers are under reported in certain areas, including the City of Detroit. Detroit was estimated to have about a 4 percent homeless student rate for the 2020-21 school year, which was equivalent to about 1,700 students according to the US Department of Education’s Center for Educational Performance and Information. However, as noted, it is believed this number is under reported. While Detroit public schools had the highest total number of students estimated to be affected by homelessness, it was the Ypsilanti School District that had the highest percentage of homeless students in the region. According to the data, the Ypsilanti School District had the highest estimated homelessness rate for the 2020-21 school year at about 10 percent, which was equivalent to about 340 students. Oak Park Public Schools had the second highest percentage of homeless students for the 2020-21 school year at about 9 percent, which was equivalent to more than 340 students.

As shown in the maps above homelessness impacts students throughout the region, but those who live in more urban and/or rural districts are impacted more. While the Center for Educational Performance and Information reports the percentage of estimated homeless students, it does not breakdown the age groups most affected. But the 2022 report from the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions Initiatives highlights that most homeless students are teenagers, Black, Native American and/or Hispanic and/or transgender.

This report further breaks down that the percentage of Black, Native American and Hispanic homeless students in Michigan in 2019 was 8 percent, 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Additionally, it was reported that about 25 percent of transgender youth in Michigan were homeless, according to the study.

While the data shows there are certain demographics that are more impacted by homelessness than others, it is clear that it impacts thousands upon thousands of students in Michigan—more than 22,000 to be exact. Many of these students are unaccompanied minors who don’t often access homeless shelters, or utilize public services. Policy shifts must occur to not only protect students from homelessness, but also provide greater safety nets for them to access healthcare, nutritional and housing services if they do experience homelessness. This means greater investment into K-12 programs, transitional foster care programs and stronger policies to prevent family homelessness.

Recreational Marijuana Brings in Additional Revenue for Michigan Communities

In 2021 more than $1.1 billion was reported in adult-use marijuana sales in the State of Michigan, and of that  more than $42.2 million is being disbursed to municipalities and counties, $49.3 million is being sent to the School Aid Fund for K-12 education and another $49.3 million is being sent to the Michigan Transportation Fund. These revenue sales occurred in the 374 dispensaries licensed in the State of Michigan, which are spread out across 53 counties. In total, there was $172 million available for distribution from the fund set up by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation Marijuana Act, and more than $111 million was collected from the 10% adult-use marijuana excise tax.

Of the funds earned through the excise tax, $20 million is to be provided annually to one or more clinical trials that research the efficacy of marihuana in treating the medical conditions of United States armed services veterans and preventing veteran suicide. Once these funds are dispersed, and administration of the regulation department is paid for, the unexpended balances must be allocated as follows: •15% to municipalities in which a marihuana retail store or a marihuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marihuana retail stores and marihuana microbusinesses within the municipality;

•15% to counties in which a marihuana retail store or a marihuana microbusiness is located, allocated in proportion to the number of marihuana retail stores and marihuana microbusinesses within the county; •35% to the school aid fund to be used for K-12 education;

•35% to the Michigan transportation fund to be used for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.

For 2021, each eligible municipality and county will receive more than $56,400 for every licensed retail store and microbusiness located within its jurisdiction.

In the seven county region for Southeastern Michigan, five of the seven counties have licensed marijuana retail stores and/or microbusinesses, with Washtenaw County having the highest number of licenses at 32. Since Washtenaw County has the highest number of licenses it is also receiving the most amount of tax revenue. Washtenaw County, as the entity itself, will be receive about $1.8 million, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury. Wayne County will receive about $960,000, and Monroe County will receive the lowest amount at about $56,500. Monroe County has one licensed marijuana business and Wayne County has 17.

As noted, Washtenaw County has the highest number of licenses and will receive the highest amount of revenue payments, this is because Ann Arbor alone has 25 licensed marijuana retail stores and/or microbusinesses. Ann Arbor, according to the Department of Treasury, will receive about $1.4 million in revenue payments because of these businesses and the distribution formula set by the Michigan Regulation and Taxation Marijuana Act.

At the city/township/village level, River Rouge in Wayne County has the second highest number of licenses in the region at 7. River Rouge is set to receive about $395,000 in revenue funds through the tax. 

While municipalities across the state are earning additional revenues through the marijuana excise tax from recreational sales, up until recently Detroit was one notable community that did not. However, in April of 2022 the Detroit City Council approved medicinal marijuana to be sold within the city limits through the adoption of a recreational ordinance.

Nearly Half of Michigan’s Roads in Poor Condition

Pothole season is upon us, and so is an even more blatant reminder of the condition of Michigan’s roads. With the amount of moisture Michigan receives—from rain to sleet to snow– coupled with cold temperatures, that often rise to the level of thawing out what is frozen only to drop to below freezing points again, and again, it is no surprise that Michigan is a pothole haven. So, as the snow for winter begins to disappear for one of the last times of the winter, Michigan drivers are again hitting the roads—quite literally—harder than before.

While data for 2020 and 2021 was unavailable from Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council at the county and city level, data for the State of Michigan in 2019-2020 shows that nearly half of Michigan’s roads were considered in poor condition. According to the data, 42.4 percent of the 87,415 miles in federal aid rated miles in Michigan were considered to be in poor condition, this was equivalent to 37,046 poor condition miles. Additionally, 36.2 percent of Michigan’s rated roads were considered to be in fair condition and 21.4 percent were considered to be in good condition. The percentage of roads considered to be in poor condition increased from the previous year (40 percent) while the percentage of roads in fair condition decreased. However, the percentage of roads considered to be in good condition remained the same 21.4.

Classification of road conditions defined by the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council based on bin ranges of PASER scores and similarities in defects and treatment options. Good roads have PASER scores of 8, 9, or 10, have very few defects, and require minimal maintenance. Fair roads have PASER scores of 5, 6, or 7, have good structural support but a deteriorating surface, and can be maintained with CPM treatments. Poor roads have PASER scores of 1, 2, 3, or 4, exhibit evidence that the underlying structure is failing, such as alligator cracking and rutting. These roads must be rehabilitated with treatments like heavy overlay, crush and shape, or total reconstruction.

Just as we know almost majority of the roads in Michigan are in poor condition, this is similar for several counties in Southeastern Michigan. According to the most recent data (2018-19), four of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan had a higher percentage of roads in poor condition than in fair or good condition. Wayne County had the highest percentage of roads in poor condition at 48.7 percent, followed by St. Clair County where 45.9 percent of the roads were in poor condition and then Oakland County where 44.9 percent of the roads were in poor condition. Washtenaw County was the only other county in the region where there was a higher percentage of roads in poor condition than in fair or good.

Livingston, Macomb and Monroe counties all had a higher percentage of roads in fair condition than in good or poor condition. Monroe County had the highest percentage of roads in fair condition at 50.1 percent, followed by Livingston County (41%) and Macomb County (38.6%). The percentage of roads in good condition was the lowest amongst the three categories for each county in the region. It was Washtenaw County though that had the highest percentage of roads in good condition at 33.3 percent; Wayne County had the lowest percentage of roads in good condition at 14.4 percent. 

While weather certainly plays a role in the condition of Michigan’s roads, along with use and vehicle weight, funding the maintenance of Michigan’s roads is often the biggest decider in the State’s pavement conditions. Road funding in Michigan doesn’t come from one dedicated source. Rather, there is federal funding provided by the Federal Highway Administration Highway Trust Fund, state funding provided by state fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, income taxes, additional appropriations decided on by the Legislature, and local funding provided by general tax revenue and additional road millages. All of these factors affect when and if a road is patched, paved or re-constructed, ultimately impacting the roadway’s condition and longevity.

While infrastructure bills, from the federal to the state to the local level continue to claim to push additional funding toward fixing the roads, forecasts from Michigan’s Transportation Asset Management Council show that by 2032 only 20 percent of Michigan’s roads may be in good condition, 34 percent may be in fair condition and 46 percenter may be in poor condition. 

The time is now to begin evaluating, and re-evaluating how long-term infrastructure funding can be adjusted to better ensure Michigan’s roads end up in better condition than what they currently are in the future.

Michigan’s Economy Pushes Forward As COVID Recovery Continues

According to recent data compiled by Bloomberg, Michigan’s economy has out-performed every other state’s in the last year based on equally weighted measures of employment, personal income, home prices, mortgage delinquency, state tax revenue and the stock market performance of its publicly-traded companies. One example of this is how the number of workers employed in Michigan has risen faster than the average number US of workers employed in the last year. Since April of 2020 the number of non-farm payrolls increased by 25 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; the US average increased by 14.3 percent and Michigan lead every state in the nation with that 25 percent increase. Another example is how the bond ratings in the state have stood out compared to other state’s. Michigan’s AA-rated bonds returned 5.6 percent (income plus appreciation) since April 2020, outperforming neighboring Wisconsin (4.3%), Indiana (4.7%) and Ohio (4.7%) as well as the entire municipal market (5.3%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Additionally, bonds issued by the Michigan Strategic Fund returned a 15 percent interest rate and bonds issued by Detroit Downtown Development project returned a 14 percent interest rate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Closer inspection of this would probably also indicate that these bonds are carrying higher than market rates because of Detroit’s past financial challenges.

Another example highlighted by Bloomberg is how Michigan’s unemployment rate has recovered since the pandemic. The chart below shows the unemployment rates for Michigan and Detroit since January of 2020.

In December of 2021 the unemployment rate for the State of Michigan declined to 5.6 percent from the 5.9 percent it was reported at for November of 2021. In April of 2020, when Michigan first began experiencing the effects of the pandemic, the unemployment rate was reported at 23.6 percent.

For the City of Detroit, the unemployment rate for December of 2021 was 9.3 percent, an increase from the 8.4 percent it was reported at the month prior. When the pandemic first began Detroit’s unemployment rate was 38.4 percent and in December of 2020 the Detroit unemployment rate was 20.3 percent, meaning there has been a significant decrease in the local unemployment rate in the last nearly two years.

Digging deeper into the regional unemployment data, we see that each county in Southeastern Michigan had a lower unemployment rate in December of 2021 than December of 2020. Wayne County had the largest decrease over that year with a 7.3 unemployment rate decline. In December of 2020 Wayne County had a 12.7 percent unemployment rate and in December of 2021 it was reported at 5.4 percent. However, despite having the largest decline in its unemployment rate, Wayne County still reported the highest unemployment rate of the region in December of 2021 at 5.4 percent; Livingston County had the lowest at 3 percent.

The charts below show the percent changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on a month-to-month basis and a year-to-year basis for each month in years 2019, 2020 and 2021 in the Midwest Region. The CPI is a measure that examines the weighted average of prices of consumer goods and services, such as transportation, food, energy, housing and medical care. It is calculated by taking price changes for each item in the predetermined group of goods and averaging them.

The first  chart below highlights how the CPI changed on a month-to-month basis between 2019 and 2021. Currently in 2021, the region’s prices were  up 0.8 percent in January, with higher prices for new and use motor vehicles (up 1.3 percent), household furnishings and operations (up 1.7 percent) and apparel (up 3.3 percent) being large contributors to the increase, without considering food and energy prices. Additionally, food prices increased 1.9 percent. The month-to-month changes reflect how pricing has changed one month to the next while the year-to-year CPI index reflects such changes on an annual basis, while considering each month.

When examining the second chart, which shows how prices changed on a year-to-year basis,  we see how prices continued to increase in 2021, with the December year-to-year CPI being the highest increase shown below. When examining both the month-to-month and year-to-year comparisons, the year-to-year data gives a clearer picture on just how much pries have increased in the last year. In December of 2021 the CPI was reported to be 7.5 percent above what it was the year prior. Contributing factors to the continued increase in the CPI include food prices increasing 8 percent over the last year and energy prices increasing 25 percent over the last year. Additionally, new and used motor vehicles increased 24.8 percent, shelter increased 4.6 percent and household furnishings and operations increased 11.6 percent.

While Michigan’s economy may be recovering since COVID first hit, the State’s housing market is not exempt for the increasing prices being witness across the country. Home prices continue to increase, as has already been indicated by the increasing CPI. In Metro Detroit, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold was $161,880 in December of 2021; this was $2,290 higher than the average family dwelling price in November. The December 2021 price was an increase of $20,220 from December of 2020 and $64,900 from December of 2014.

453 Hate Crimes Reported in Michigan in 2020

In 2020 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported 453 hate crimes in the State of Michigan, an increase from the 434 hate crimes reported the year prior (Chart 1). According to the FBI, hate crimes are defined as a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability. In 2020, majority of the hate crimes reported were motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry (77%). Sexual orientation was the second highest bias that motivated a hate crime at 11 percent, followed by religion at 9 percent in 2020 (Chart 2).

In 2018 and 2019, race/ethnicity/ancestry were also the bias motivator category with the highest number of reported at hate crimes. In 2018 there were 282 hate crimes motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry, in 2019 there were 313 hate crimes motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry and in 2020 there were 273 hate crimes motivated by race/ethnicity/ancestry (Chart 3).

The FBI has not yet released the agencies/locations where hate crimes were reported for 2020, but in 2019 the data showed that some of the reported hate crimes occurred at Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor and Flint) and Washtenaw Community College. University of Michigan Ann Arbor had the highest number of reported hate crimes in 2019 at 7, with the race/ethnicity/ancestry being the highest bias motivator. Washtenaw Community College also had a reported hate crime under that bias motivator category. Gender identity as a bias motivator with the second highest number of reported incidents at 2, with Eastern Michigan University and Oakland University each having a reported incident.

When examining the State Police agencies by county, Wayne County had the highest number of reported hate crime incidents at 5, with the race/ancestry/ethnicity bias motivator category being the highest and only category in which hate crimes were reported under. The Wayne County State Police agency reported 5 race/ancestry/ethnicity motivated hate crimes. Of the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan only Livingston, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne reported hate crimes out of their respective State Police agencies. All these counties, except for Oakland and Washtenaw counties only had hate crimes reported under the race/ancestry/ethnicity bias motivation category. The State Police agency located in Oakland County also reported a hate crime under the religion category in 2019, and the Washtenaw County State Police agency also reported hate crimes under both the sexual orientation and gender categories.
 

Those who believe they are the victim of a hate crime or believe they have witnessed a hate crime should dial 911 in an emergency situation. Individuals can also report the crime to their local police department and then follow up with the report with a tip to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) tip line at 1-800-225-5324.