Strong Correlations Exist For High Education Levels and High Incomes Throughout Most of Southeastern Michigan

In our last post we showed there is an area of overlapping high median incomes and high educational attainment running through Washtenaw County, western Wayne County, southern Oakland County and western Macomb County with nearly the opposite—lower median income and lower educational attainment–south of that in the region. In this post, we discuss explicitly the correlation between the levels of education examined in the last post (less than high school education, high school education, associate’s degree or some college education, bachelor’s degree, and graduate/professional degrees) and median incomes. The correlations are calculated for medians and percentages of municipalities across the region.

A correlation is statistical technique that can be used to describe the relationship between two variables. The correlation coefficient, often expressed as ‘r,’ is a numerical value that is always between +1 and -1. When r is closer to +1, it implies a positive correlation; as one variable increases, the other does as well. When r is closer to -1, it implies an inverse correlation; as one variable increases the other decreases. When the value of r is closer to 0 the implication is that there is no relationship between the two sets of data.

Educational Attainment Correlation Value
Achieved less than a high school diploma -0.74
Achieved only a high school diploma -0.71
Achieved some college or an associate’s degree -0.57
Achieved only a bachelor’s degree 0.75
Achieved a graduate or professional degree 0.77

 

Looking first across the region incomes tend to be lower for those municipalities with a higher percentage of people who do not have a high school degree, with a correlation of -0.74. This tends to indicate that less education leads to lower incomes. At the same time, it could mean that people with lower incomes have less of chance of completing their education. For those with a high school diploma the effect was slightly smaller, with a correlation of -0.71, and similarly for those with some college or an associate’s degree the correlation was -0.57.

For those at the upper end of education distribution the opposite holds true—there is a positive correlation between higher educational levels and higher incomes. Across Southeast Michigan for the municipalities with a higher percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree, incomes tend to be higher, with a correlation of 0.75. The relationship between income and educational attainment is even stronger for those who have attained graduate or professional degree, with a correlation of 0.77.

Next we examined these relationships at the county level—for all municipalities in a county. Of the seven counties in the region, Wayne County had the strongest correlations of (0.91) in relation to those with bachelor’s degrees and the median income. For those with graduate or professional degrees in Wayne County the correlation was 0.90 percent.  Monroe County had the weakest correlation value between those with bachelor’s degrees and the median income, with a correlation value of 0.22; it also had the weakest correlation between income and those with graduate or /professional degrees, with a correlation value of at -0.13 percent. Such values for Monroe County indicate that the relationship between higher levels of education attainment and higher median incomes are weakened or reversed in that largely rural setting. For several of the other counties, the correlation between these variables was much greater. In addition to Monroe County having a weak relationship between median income and those with a bachelor’s degree, there was also a weak relationship between those same two variables for St. Clair and, surprisingly, Washtenaw counties. For Washtenaw, it may occur because there are many students with higher education who are still pursuing degrees and have relatively lower incomes.

At the other end of the education spectrum, there exist a strong tendency for lower incomes to be associated with lower levels of education. Each county has either a moderate to strong correlation between incomes and lower levels of education. Monroe County again had the lowest correlations between median income and educational attainment for attainment, this time for less than a high school education and up to a high school education.

Overall, these analyses show a range of correlations across counties between higher median incomes and higher levels of educational attainment, some high and positive, others weak. Monroe County stands out as the only county one where there was a weak correlation between median income and all levels of educational attainment. It could be speculated this is because it is a more rural county and much of the work there relates to agriculture, work that is often learned at home within families.  In southeastern Michigan as a whole, there are relatively strong positive and inverse correlations between incomes and education attainment. There is a positive correlation between those who have achieved a graduate or professional degree and incomes–people with higher education tend to have higher incomes.  There is an inverse relationship between those who have not achieved a high school diploma and incomes–those with less education tend to have lower incomes.

Median Income, Educational Attainment Highlight Segregated Classes in Southeastern Michigan

Using Census data, this post examines the visual correspondence between income and educational attainment across the region. It clearly portrays the continuing association between these two critical variables with one region of high income and high educational achievement arching across the region from Washtenaw County, through Western Wayne County and up through Oakland County and western Macomb County. South of this is a region of lower income and educational attainment with a few islands of higher income and achievement. In all, this represents a strong and largely consolidated portrait of segregated classes in this region.

In Southeastern Michigan the City of Highland Park had the lowest median income at $17,250, with 33 percent of the adult population only having a high school diploma. In terms of educational attainment in Highland Park, those who had some college education or an associate’s degree represented the highest percentage of residents, as opposed to the other categories (less than high school, high school education, bachelor’s degree, graduate or professional degree). On the opposite end of the spectrum, the City of Bloomfield Hills had the highest median income at about $173,000, with the largest percent of its adult population having a graduate or professional degree (38%). Such trends are not unique to Highland Park or Bloomfield Hills.

Above the maps show what the median income of each community is with an overlay that shows what the percentage of educational attainment is at five different levels. These levels are: graduate degree, bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or some college, high school diploma or an equivalency and less than a high school diploma. The overall purpose of each map is to present an image on how educational attainment and at each level may, or may not, relate to the median income.

When looking at the maps above we see that the communities that have more than 18 percent of its adult population with graduate or professional degrees tend have median incomes above $77,000. In total, there were only 10 communities, out of 46, where more than 18 percent of its adult population had graduate or professional degrees but the median income was below $77,000. Of those 10 communities, the City of Ypsilanti had the lowest median income at about $31,000 and 18 percent of its adult population had a graduate or professional degree. The community with the highest percentage of adult residents with a graduate or professional degree  is Ann Arbor, where both the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Hospital are located. The median income for Ann Arbor in 2015 was $103,000. There was no community in Southeastern Michigan where more than 30 percent of the adults had a graduate or professional degree and had a median income below $95,000.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are 154 communities in Southeastern Michigan where 10 percent or more of the adult population had less than a high school education in 2015. The City of Hamtramck had the highest percentage of adults without a high school education at about 31 percent; the City’s median income was about $23,000. There are nine communities in the region where 20 percent or more of the population had less than a high school education. Of those nine communities, with the exception of Lincoln Park, none had a median income above $33,000. The median income in Lincoln Park was $41,000 in 2015. The City of Detroit is included in that list of nine communities, with a median income of about $26,000 and about 22 percent of its adult population having less than a high school education. Additionally, in Detroit, about 32 percent of the adult population had a high school education, and about 32 percent had some college education or an associate’s degree.

The percentage of Detroit residents with a bachelor’s degree was far lower than any of the statistics mentioned above. In Detroit, about 8 percent of residents had a bachelor’s degree in 2015. In terms of the percentage of residents throughout Southeastern Michigan with a bachelor’s degree, the average percentage was 18 percent and the median income was about $66,000.

Regionally, the community with the highest percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree was the Village of Grosse Point at about 62 percent; the city had a median income of about $139,000. The City of River Rouge had the lowest percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree at about 4 percent; it had a median income of approximately $26,000. In total, there were 46 communities in Southeastern Michigan where less than 10 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree. Exeter Township, located in Livingston County, had the highest median income of the 46 communities that had less than 10 percent of its adult residents with a bachelor’s degree. The median income in Exeter Township was about $68,000.

Overall, this post shows that there is a correlation between median incomes and educational attainment, a deeper conversation that we will dive into next week. The maps and the data show that it is the communities with the higher percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree and/or a graduate degree that have amongst the highest median incomes.

Percentage of Special Education Students Higher in Urban, Rural Districts in Southeastern Michigan

In the state of Michigan, 13.3 percent, or about 206,000 students, were considered to be Special Education students for the 2014-2015 school year. Many urban and rural districts had a higher percentage of special education students than their suburban counterparts in Southeastern Michigan. However, according to a 2014 Bridge article, special education designations vary from district-to-district; it comes down to a very local decision.

According to the state of Michigan there are 13 disability types that may cause a student to be considered a special education. These disability types are:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Deaf-Blindness
  • Early Childhood Development Delay
  • Emotional Impairment
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Physical Impairment
  • Severe Multiple Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech and Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment
  • Other Health Impairments

At the county level (which is represented by data provided for the county intermediate school district or regional education service agencies), the St. Clair County Regional Education Agency had the highest percentage of special education students at 14 percent and the Livingston Education Service Agency had the lowest at 12 percent.

SEMI Special Education1

Of the 100 public school districts in Southeastern Michigan, Mount Clemens School District had the highest percentage of special education students during the 2014-2015 school year at 26.5%. In Macomb County, 36 percent of the school districts had a higher percentage of special education students than the state average of 13.3 percent. Macomb and Oakland counties each had eight school districts with a percentage of special education students that was higher than the state average. It was St. Clair County though that had the highest percentage of public school districts with a higher percentage of special education students over the state average. Of the seven public school districts in St. Clair County four had more than 13.3 percent of its student body designated as special education. Capac Community Schools had the highest percentage in the county at 17 percent.

In Wayne County, the Wyandotte School District had the highest percentage of special education students at 24.7 percent. The Detroit Public Schools had 18.2 percent of its student body categorized as special needs during the 2014-2015. The Wayne County public school districts that had a higher percentage of special education students than the Detroit Public Schools were:

  • Garden City Public Schools (18.8%)
  • Redford Union Schools (19.9%)
  • Southgate Community School District (18.9%)

Below are the public school districts in each county, not already discussed, with the highest percentage of special education students

  • Monroe County- Jefferson Public Schools (15%)
  • Oakland County- Pontiac Public Schools (19.2%)
  • Washtenaw County- Whitmore Lake Public School District (21.1%)

Southeastern Michigan Special Education

While special education designations remain a local decision, Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley recently called for special education reform, including “breaking down the walls between general education and special education” and creating a multi-tied system of support that is centered around the philosophy that each student is unique. Calley said he doesn’t want a child’s education to be tied to their diagnosis, but rather their specific needs. For more on this click here.