Turkeys, Chickens and Ducks

As Thanksgiving approaches it is worth noting that our state has had a great success in expanding wild turkey populations across the state from near extinction in 1900 to over 200,000 birds across the state nowadays. All but the most densely populated areas of Southeastern Michigan have wild turkeys. And now they will find many cities are allowing their domesticated cousins—chickens. And at least one has added ducks.

Across Southeastern Michigan there are 30 communities that allow for residents to house chickens on their property, according to recent research conducted by the Detroit Free Press. These communities have various ways of allowing residents to have the chickens on their property. For example, in the City of Warren residents are allowed to have three hens and pay a $10 registration fee to have the chickens. In the City of Berkley though restrictions are bit tighter, with only five permits available for residents to have backyard chickens.

It is within the purview of each community as to whether or not they want to allow backyard chickens and to what extent they will be allowed. This local control comes from a rule the Michigan Agriculture Commission adopted in 2014 that essentially states not everyone can claim rights under the Right to Farm Act. The rule is intended to protect the overall goal of the Right to Farm Act, which is to protect industrial sized farmers in rural communities. The local control aspect of backyard livestock and poultry allows more suburban and urban communities to decide what is best for their community and residents. As noted above some communities only allow a certain number of permits to be distributed, while others require a fee to be paid, and only a certain number of hens to be owned by an individual. While there are 30 communities in Southeastern Michigan that allow residents to own chickens, there are 21 that have banned them. Ann Arbor recently added ducks to the list of animals backyard farmers can cultivate.

Reasons individuals want to house chickens in their backyard typically links back to wanting the chicken’s eggs. Hens can lay up to five eggs per week. Reasons communities cite for wanting to ban them include the allegation that the chickens, and their feed, may attract rats and that the hens themselves may be a noise nuisance.

Population Shifts Reflect Aftermath of Economic Distress, Change

Last week we examined the density of the various racial, ethnic and ancestral backgrounds in Southeastern Michigan and this week we further explore how those populations have grown or declined, regionally between 2010 and 2016. One of the fascinating results of this analysis is that it demonstrates a clear reversal in the long term trend for Caucasian population to exit Detroit. This has reversed with substantial increases in the percentage of whites in some inner city areas of Detroit. We see a similar trend in Pontiac in Oakland County. As the first map below shows, population growth above 51 percent or more occurred in the Downtown Detroit, Midtown, West Village, New Center, Boston Edison, Corktown and Palmer Park areas of Detroit. These areas have been popular areas of redevelopment in recent years. Another possible reason for this growth is that homes in Detroit, for example, cost far less than other areas of the metropolitan area, and this makes renting or home ownership feasible when it might not be, after losses of income due to the decline of industry and the job market. One note of caution—the big increases for whites occur with respect to very small base populations. So, big increases might not mean that many people.

As the second map shows, most of Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population between 2010 and 2016. While Detroit experienced a loss of the African American population, there were increases of this population in areas such as Warren, Eastpointe, Dearborn and several outer-ring suburbs. This represents a continuation of a decades long migration outward from Detroit. As job markets integrate, it may be rational for African Americans to seek to be closer to job locations in the suburbs, where, after all, job growth has been higher than in Detroit.

The same forces are in play for the Latinx population. There were also population increases above 51 percent for those of Hispanic or Latinx descent in the region’s outer-ring suburbs, as the third map below shows.

For the Arab ancestry map (the fourth map), we see that there are several areas in the region, including in much of Detroit, where this population is minimal or not present. Where it was present in Detroit, it has been rapidly declining. Conversely, the Arab ancestral population’s growth is expanding in areas of western Macomb and both the eastern and western portion of the southern half of Oakland County.

Overall these maps remind us that population changes that have been steady for decades can change in unexpected ways in just a very few years, especially after a decade of economic distress and change.

Detroit’s Ex-Urban Areas Lack Diversity, Density

The purpose of this post is to show the population density of race, ethnicity and ancestry throughout Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. Each dot in the maps represents 500 people and the race, ethnicity or ancestry of that concentration. The groups represented on the maps are those of Arab ancestry, Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian. As shown in the first map, there are various concentrations of each throughout Southeastern Michigan, with those of non-Hispanic black or African American and non-Hispanic white or Caucasian being the most prominent across the region.

A deeper look at the map, and the individual maps, shows that the Caucasian population has the broadest distribution across in the region, with the highest concentrations in Detroit’s northern suburbs (See Below). The only truly notable absence of the Caucasian population in the map below is in Highland Park and in some areas of Detroit.

The group with the next highest population distribution is the African American population, with the largest concentration being in the City of Detroit. Other areas with high-density African American populations are the southern areas of the inner-ring suburbs of Detroit, Southfield, and Inkster, with increasing density in some down river communities and southern Macomb County, especially Warren. Additionally, as can be seen in the map below, Pontiac also is one of the higher density areas with an African American population.

When looking at the first map above, attention is also drawn to the Southwest portion of Detroit, where there is the highest density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. Allen Park, Lincoln Park and Melvindale also have a higher density of the Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the region. The individual map also shows that there is also some concentration of the Hispanic or Latino population in Pontiac.


The final group examined in this post is those of Arab ancestry, and the highest density of this group is in eastern area of Dearborn and in Hamtramck. Dearborn Heights also has among the highest density of those of Arab ancestry. As the Arab ancestry map shows though, western Macomb County, eastern Oakland County and some western Oakland County communities are also the areas of the Southeastern Michigan where those of Arab ancestry live.

As noted, the above maps highlight the population density of various racial, ethnic and ancestral groups in the region. The outlying suburban and ex-urban areas of the region have much lower population density, along with far lower diversity.

Next week we will examine the how the percentage of each of these populations changed between 2010 and 2016.



Elderly Population Continues to Grow in Southeastern Michigan

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.

Detroit’s HIV Rates Highest in the Region

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.

Wayne County Has Highest Average Payment for Food Stamps

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.

Public Transportation for Work Commute Underutilized in Southeastern Michigan

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.

Metro-Detroit Transit Continues With Uphill Battle Despite SMART Millage Passage

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 Southeastern Michigan Continue to Rise

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.

Drug Deaths Continue to Increase in Metro-Detroit

According to the most recent data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, drug-induced death rates are higher throughout Southeastern Michigan than alcohol-induced death rates. In 2016, according to the data, St. Clair County had the highest drug-induced death rate at 46.4 per 100,000 residents; Wayne County had the second highest rate at 41.4 per 100,000 residents. Regionally, Washtenaw County had the lowest rate at 20.8 per 100,000 residents. According to a recent New York Times article that focuses on 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control, Michigan experienced more than a 10 percent increase in overdose deaths between 2016 and 2017, much of which can be attributed to synthetic opioids. The article states that with increased funding for public health programs related to mental health and substance abuse policies there is “optimism” that overdose death rates will at least begin to stabilize in the future. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan’s drug-induced death rate was 9 in 2000, having only continued to increase to 27.5 per 100,000 residents in 2016. All counties in the Southeastern Michigan region had seen similar increases in that time period as well.

While Wayne County had one of the highest drug-induced mortality rates in Southeastern Michigan, it had one of the lowest alcohol-induced mortality rates at 7.9 per 100,000 residents in 2016. The only other two counties in the region with lower alcohol-induced mortality rates were Oakland (7.4) and Washtenaw (7.7). St. Clair County had the highest alcohol-induced mortality rate at 16.3 per 100,000 residents in 2016.

Although the media attention has not been as high on alcohol-induced deaths as drug-induced deaths, a recent University of Michigan study did show that deaths related to cirrhosis (a liver disease often related to alcohol consumption) increased 65 percent between 1999 and 2016; it also stated there was a 10.5 percent increase in cirrhosis related deaths for 25-34 year olds.