Telescoping in on unemployment: Week 2

From 1990 to 2011 the unemployed number of civilians living in the Detroit region tracks (though at a lower level) the number of people living in Wayne County. While the trend line is almost identical, unemployment numbers in Wayne County were higher than the Detroit region in more recent years. This is because the Detroit region, as defined by the Census, includes much of Wayne County. For example, in 2011, the number of unemployed in the Detroit region was 103,348 whereas the number of unemployed in Wayne County was 105,659. Unemployment numbers for the Detroit region consistently remained higher than those in Oakland and Macomb counties, reflecting the larger population, but also greater numbers of unemployed.

Since 1990, both the number of unemployed and the jobless rate for the Detroit region were at their lowest in 2000 and their highest in 2009. In 2000, the jobless rate was 4.3 percent, and nine years later that number jumped to 16 percent. From 2000 to 2003, the jobless rate was on the rise. It remained steady at about 8.5 percent from 2003 to 2007 and then slightly increased from 2007 to 2008. Between 2008 and 2009 the jobless rate quickly increased from 9.9 percent to 16 percent; by 2011, it had dropped to 12.6 percent.
The number of unemployed civilians in the City of Detroit represented a disproportionate number of the unemployed civilians in Wayne County and the Detroit region. In 2009, the City of Detroit represented 67 percent of the unemployed civilians in Wayne County. As with the State of Michigan, the Wayne-Oakland-Macomb tri-county area, and Detroit region, the City of Detroit similarly experienced its highest number of  unemployed civilians in 2009 and has declined since then.
When comparing the jobless rate of the Detroit region, which is made up of the cities Detroit, Dearborn, and Livonia, with the jobless rate in just the City of Detroit, the City’s jobless rate has consistently remained higher. For example, when the jobless rate was at its peak in 2009, it was 24.8 percent for the City of Detroit and 16 percent for the Detroit region. The rate for the City of Detroit had declined to 19.9 by the end of 2011. From 1990 to 2011, the lowest jobless rate for the City of Detroit was 7.3 percent in 2000. By comparison, the lowest jobless rate for the Detroit region was 4.3 percent in 2000.

Narrowing the unemployment perspective: Week 1

The graphs of both the number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate show that unemployment was at an all-time low in 1944. This was in the midst of World War II. The number reached the 2 million mark two years after the war ended and the numbers have never gone below the 1 million mark since 1944. In recent decades, the lowest number of unemployed citizens was in 2000 with 5.7 million unemployed people. The highest number was 14.9 million in 2010.

Over the last 80 years the unemployment rate in the United States has experienced several highs, the worst of which came during the Great Depression era. Unemployment rates began to rise in the 1930s, after the stock market crash of 1929. Following this event, unemployment rates spiked to their highest level in 1932. The lowest unemployment was in 1944 at 1.2 percent. Since then there have been several high and lows with all the peaks just below 10 percent. These peaks were during the recession of 1982 (9.7%) and 2008 (9.6%). Currently unemployment is trending down slowly.
These data indicate that peak unemployment in Michigan tends to occur near the national peak. In recent years, the highest unemployment number Michigan has experienced was in 2009, during the same time that two auto firms were approaching bankruptcy.
The jobless rate in Michigan is more closely aligned to the number of unemployed residents than what is seen nationwide. Michigan’s lowest unemployment rate was in 2000; this was also the lowest unemployment rate for the nation in recent history. The highest recent unemployment rate reported in Michigan was 15.6% in 1982. Recently, the state experienced an unemployment high of 13.4% in 2009.

All three counties experienced unemployment highs and lows during the same year. The year with the highest number of unemployed civilians in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties was in 2009. Wayne County consistently had higher numbers of unemployed civilians, reflective of both its larger population and higher unemployment rate.

Wayne County had greater numbers of unemployed residents in the two years examined in the previous chart; it also consistently had a higher unemployment rate than its two neighboring communities. However, while Oakland County consistently had a higher number of unemployed citizens than Macomb County in the above chart, this chart shows Macomb County as having a higher jobless rate. This reflects the fact that Macomb County has a lower population  than Oakland and Wayne counties. In 2009, when all three counties experienced their highest unemployment rates since 1990, Macomb County was less than half a percentage point away from reaching the 16% unemployment rate Wayne County was experiencing at the time. Oakland County had a 12.8% unemployment rate in 2009.

Employment trends

From 1962 to 2000 the number of people employed in the U.S. rose fairly consistently despite multiple recessions. Specifically, since 2000 this number has fallen as a result of two more recent recessions, one which began in 2001 and the other that began in late 2007. Employment is improving but the U.S. has not yet recovered from the employment loss that started in 2001. See a recent article from The New York Times “Still Crawling Out of a Very Deep Hole,” for a further description on the recovery still taking place.

While employment continued on an upward trend in the U.S., the number of employed Michigan residents has not followed suit. The gap between the highs and lows of employed residents in Michigan are more extreme, with the highest number occurring in the year 2000. Since then, Michigan has experienced unprecedented job losses, although this has begun abating over the past two years. The population in the State of Michigan must also be taken into consideration.  Within the last 30 years, 1982 marks the lowest number of employed residents in Michigan; the population of the state was at about 9.1 million then. According to a Jan. 20, 2009 New York Times article by David Leonhardt, this trend, that is also represented at the national level, is due to higher Federal interest rates that led to inflation and the increase in oil prices that was sparked by the Iran Revolution in 1979.

From 1970 to 1990 the number of employed in Wayne County continued in a downward trend, as did the population. The data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Wayne County had a population of 2.7 million in 1970 and the above data shows employment was at about 1.27 million; by 1990 the population fell to about 2.1 million and employment was at about 976,000. That downward trend slightly leveled off from 1990 to 2000 though; the employment in 2000 for Wayne County was documented at about 970,000 and the population was about 2 million. This means the number of employed was about 6,000 less in 2000 than in 1990, but as employment was still declining in the county the state and country were experiencing a spike of employment in 2000. Following the year 2000 the county experienced its all time low of employed residents, following the economic downfall that was affecting everyone in the U.S., especially Michigan and the Detroit area.  In 2010 Wayne County’s employment was documented at about 661,000.

The decline of employed people for the City of Detroit has been much steeper than what’s been experienced at the county, state and national level. Despite the short lived increase of employment in 2000 Detroit’s numbers have been continuously declining over the past four decades, as has the population. The employment to total population ratio for the city was 49% in 1970, by 2010 that number dropped to 28% The employment numbers continued to decrease as major Detroit employers, such as government offices, laid employees off and the city’s population fled elsewhere. Information describing Detroit’s declining population can be found in an earlier post here.

Despite layoffs by government related employers such as the City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools and local federal government agencies, these three major employer categories continue to represent three of the city’s top five employers.  The Detroit Medical Center, which is made up of six hospitals, is the city’s third largest employer while Henry Ford Health is the fourth. While these five major employer categories hold the top spots for employment in the city not all employees are Detroit residents. However, DMC, Henry Ford and Wayne State have all recently been part of initiatives to provide incentives to employees willing to move to the city.

Employment to population comparison

The percent of population employed in and throughout Michigan remained lower than the national average in 2010. While the percent of the population employed in the U.S. was about 59% in 2010 that number was about 20 percentage points lower in Detroit while the state was only about 4 percentage points lower. Detroit’s employment levels have been documented as much lower than those at the county, regional, state, and national level. The employment to population ratio was calculated by taking the number of people in the civilian labor force and dividing it by the civilian non-institutional population. The civilian labor force is made up of those 16 years old or older who are employed or searching for a job and are not in the military or institutionalized.

A closer look at the population

According to data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 Detroit’s median age represented a younger population than that at the state, regional and national level. According to an analysis performed by Impressa for CEOs for Cities of 2000 and 2010 Census data and data provided by the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, Detroit’s population of 25-34 year-olds with a four year degree or higher increased by 1,967 residents, or about 59 percent. The New York Times provides an increased drive by young artists and “socially aware hipsters” looking to revitalize an urban setting as a reason behind the spike of this portion of the population. Data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget also describes how from 2009-10 the rate of migration to other states for residents between the ages of 60-74 increased while it decreased for those between the ages of 1-29, 35 to 59, and those above the age of 75.

A closer look at the population

There has been a steady decline in Detroit’s population during the last six decades, representing a 37 percent decline. This trend began in the1950s with suburban ascendancy, construction of the highway system, dismantling of streetcar systems, and mortgages financed by the federal government began, according to University of Pennsylvania history and sociology professor Thomas J. Sugrue.  Sugrue, author of “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit” a March 26, 2011 article in the New York Times about Detroit,  explains how the recent loss of about 200,000 African Americans from the city in the last decade derives from their move to older suburbs in the area. The evidence of the loss of about 200,000 African Americans is supported by a comparison of the 2000 Census and 2010 Census.

A closer look at the population

Although the population in Wayne County has always remained higher than the other two counties–Oakland and Macomb–that make up the Metro-Detroit area, Wayne County has seen its population decline while the opposite has happened for the other two. The population increase in Oakland and Macomb counties began around 1970, the same time Wayne County began to lose its population. Since then Oakland and Macomb have seen a slow, but steady population growth, while Wayne County’s population has been decreasing since 1950. While Wayne County has lost about 240,000 residents in the last decade, according to Census data, Oakland County has only gained about 53,000 residents and Macomb County has gained about 8,000. Much of the loss of Wayne County residents was to other states because of the economy, according to information provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. The department does describe though how rates of migration to other states decreased from 2009-10, particularly for ages 1-29, 35-59, and those 75 and up.

A closer look at the population

Aside from about a four year population decline from 1979 to 1983 Michigan’s population continued to rapidly grow until about 2005. Since that year the state has lost about 200,000 residents; it appears the population started to level off again in 2011 though. However, that number is still not near the state’s population peak from six and seven years ago.