Various measures of labor utilization show improvement in Michigan’s, Metro-Detroit’s economy

  • From August 2015 to September 2015, the unemployment rate across the state increased and in the city of Detroit (monthly);
  • The Purchasing Manager’s Index for Southeast Michigan decreased from October 2015 to November 2015 (monthly);
  • Commodity Price Index increased from October 2015 to November 2015 for Southeast Michigan (monthly);
  • Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area shows home prices are still slowly increasing.

Detroit Unemployment

According to the most recent data provided by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget, the unemployment rate for the state of Michigan increased from 4.7 percent in September to 5 percent in October. Unemployment in the city of Detroit decreased from 12.7 percent in August to 11.5 percent in September.

Detroit unemployed, discouraged workers


Displayed above is an alternative measure of labor utilization in the state of Michigan at an annual basis. This measure of unemployment, which includes discouraged workers and marginally attached workers, shows that this too has been decreasing. This measure of labor utilization peaked in 2009 at 15 and by the third quarter of 2015 it decreased to 7.6. From 2009 to 2015 there has been a steady decrease.

Detroit's employed


From August to September, the number of people employed in the city of Detroit increased by 386, for a total of 214,192 people employed in the city in September. From March to September, the number of people employed in the city increased by 4,775. In the last year, the month of March had the lowest number of people employed in the city of Detroit.

Auto employment

The above chart shows the number of people employed in the auto manufacturing industry in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (Detroit-Warren-Livonia) from August 2014 to August 2015. From August to September the number of people employed in this industry increased by 1,400, to a total of 106,700. This number is 11,300 more than the number of workers employed in the auto manufacturing industry in September of 2013.

Michigan PMI

The Purchasing Manger’s Index (PMI) is a composite index derived from five indicators of economic activity: new orders, production, employment, supplier deliveries, and inventories. A PMI above 50 indicates the economy is expanding.

According to the most recent data released on Southeast Michigan’s Purchasing Manager’s Index, the PMI for November 2015 was 57.1, a decrease of 1.3 of a point from the prior month. It was also an increase of .3 from November of 2014.

Michigan Commodity Price

The Commodity Price Index, which is a weighted average of selected commodity prices, was recorded at 45.5 points in November 2015, which was 1.7 points higher than the previous month and 16.3 points lower than November 2014.

Detroit Home Prices

The above charts show the Standard and Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index for the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area. The index includes the price for homes that have sold but does not include the price of new home construction, condos, or homes that have been remodeled.

According to the index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $100,680 in September 2015. This was an increase of $5,610 from September of 2014 and an increase of $50 from August of 2015.

Macomb County sees largest rate increases for drug-, alcohol-induced deaths

As with other regions Southeastern Michigan has rising drug-related death rates, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), have attributed to increased use and abuse of opioids. According to the CDC, opioid overdose death is an epidemic that can be found within even the quietest communities. In 2013, on the national scale, drug overdoses were the leading causes of injury death and 51 percent of those deaths were related to prescription drugs. While data at the county level on opioid specific deaths was unavailable, below are maps showing how drug-induced death rates have increased in every Southeastern Michigan county (where data is available) between 2003 and 2013. In addition to an increase in drug-induced death rates since 2003 there has also been an increase in alcohol-induced death rates and “all other causes” of death.

All of the information presented in this presented was obtained from the CDC. According to the CDC, data is unreliable if the number of deaths for a specific cause is too small to create an accurate rate. Additionally, some counties have suppressed rates, meaning the information obtained is below the determined “cut-off” value and the conditions for suppression are met, according to the CDC. Rates are per 100,000 residents.

Metro-Detroit Drug-induced Deaths 2003

Metro-Detroit Drug Induced Deaths 2013

Macomb County had the highest increase in drug-induced death rates between 2003 and 2013, with the rate climbing 16.2 per 100,000. In 2013 Macomb County had the second highest drug-induced death rate though at 29.2; Monroe County had the highest rate at 30.6. It was Washtenaw County that had the lowest drug-induced death rate in 2013 at 16.1; in 2003 the Washtenaw’s drug-induced death rate was 8.9.

In 2003 Monroe and St. Clair counties had too few drug-induced deaths (18 and 12, respectively) for reliable rates to be created. However, with such low drug-induced death numbers in 2003 for those two counties we can infer that Monroe and St. Clair counties also experienced an increase in their rates between 2003 and 2013, especially since the CDC was able to determine rates for 2013.

According to the CDC, those between the ages of 25 and 54 have the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths. While rates for drug-induced deaths at these age levels were not explicitly available, the data does show that Macomb County had 157 drug-induced deaths for residents between the ages of 25 and 54 in 2013. Monroe County had at least 20 such deaths, however numbers were not available for the 35-44 age group because the numbers were too small to report.

Metro-Detroit Alcohol Induced Deaths 2003

Metro-Detroit Alcohol Induced Deaths 2013

While there were fewer alcohol-induced deaths than drug-induced deaths in both 2003 and 2013 in each county with available data, there was still across-the-board increases between those dates. Of those documented rate increases, Macomb County again had the largest increase between 2003 and 2013 at 3.2. In 2013 Macomb County also had the highest alcohol-induced death rate of the counties in the region; this rate was 10.8.

Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties had to few of deaths for accurate rates to be presented.

Metro-Detroit Deaths 2003

Metro-Detroit Deaths 2013

As expected, the death rates for all other death throughout the region were much higher than either and both drug- and alcohol-induced death rates. One trend to note is that “other causes” death rates also increased between 2003 and 2013. St. Clair County had the largest increase at 184.9; its death rate in 2003 was 870.8 and in 2013 it was 1055.7. In 2013 St. Clair County had the highest rate and Washtenaw County had the lowest.

Just a few weeks ago we drilled down on how the death rate for white, middle aged population is increasing, largely in part to suicide and substance abuse. While numbers were unavailable for alcohol- and drug-induced death rates at the county levels for age groups, this post does highlight how deaths related to alcohol and drugs have been increasing over the last 10 years.

Detroit’s housing costs increasing faster than incomes

Throughout Southeastern Michigan monthly housing costs for renters are increasing generally faster than their monthly household incomes, which in many cases are actually declining, according to data from the American Community Survey. Even in areas where the renters’ incomes improvements exceeded the change in overall regional housing costs between 2010 and 2013, monthly housing costs continued to increase at a rapid pace. There were areas in the region though, particularly Oakland County, where monthly housing cost increases stayed below the monthly household income increases. However, Detroit’s overall housing costs generally increased at a faster pace than the monthly income changes (largely declines) of residents.




Between 2010 and 2013 all Oakland County communities experienced an increase in household income while many communities throughout the rest of Southeastern Michigan continued to experience a decrease in their household income. St. Clair County had the most communities where the household income decreased more than 9 percent (three-Columbus, Ira and Kimball townships) between 2010 and 2013; the only other county where a community had such an income decrease was Washtenaw with Bridgewater Township.

When just looking at renter’s income change between 2010 and 2013 we see that there were fewer households that experienced an income decrease and more that saw their incomes increase.

According to, Michigan is one of three states that suffers from housing affordability burdens, particularly in the rental realm. Incomes may be increasing throughout the state, but for renters earning minimum wage, those small increases often equate to the increases in monthly housing costs, especially as demand for rental units remains high.


RentMoreHHI (1)

Despite renters throughout the region experiencing income increases, these increases were not equal to or more than their housing costs in several communities. In St. Clair County all of the communities experienced housing cost changes above those of the renters’ monthly income. This was not unique to just St. Clair County though. Rather every county in the region, with the exception of Livingston and Oakland, had renters whose income changes weren’t keeping up with their housing cost increases. With increases in Oakland County’s renters’ income outpacing their monthly housing cost increases this could mean a number of things, including: rental prices are not increasing as quickly as places such as Detroit or Warren because demand is lower; these renters’ incomes are growing as the economy stabilizes (for places like Ferndale, Royal Oak and Rochester we see their income increases are above that of non-renters) while in areas like Detroit the median household income is lower, income growth can’t keep up with cost of housing increases.

A series of five maps drilling down into the City of Detroit (presented below) shows that pockets of the city experienced household income growth between 2010 and 2013. While there was some overlap between overall income growth and renters’ income growth, this wasn’t true for every Census Tract. One area where there was such a difference was just east of Hamtramck. Here we see that Census Tract experienced overall income growth between 2010 and 2013 but the renters there did not see their incomes increase. Renters in that area also experienced monthly housing cost increases that exceeded their income changes. In this area of the city, homeownership also appears to be more prevalent than in other areas of the city.

Throughout other parts of the city we see that the majority of Census Tracts experienced an increase in renters’ household income between 2010 and 2013. But, the increases in monthly housing cost offset most income increases. This could indicate a shift toward gentrification in some areas as long-term, lower-income renters cannot afford increasing monthly housing costs as demand for rental units in Detroit continues to grow. With a current vacancy rate of 5 percent and a desire for many suburbanites to live in areas such as Downtown, Midtown and Corktown, housing costs in the city continue to grow, according to the MetroTimes (link). It is these areas where renters experienced income growth well above the overall changes in the City of Detroit. Not every Census Tract in these neighborhoods though had renters with income changes above the overall change experienced by the city as whole.






Detroit rental units

Basic Amenities Lacking in Southeastern Michigan’s Urban, Rural Communities

The basic amenities many of us take for granted – heating, plumbing, phone service, and full kitchens – are not accessible to everyone. There are occupied homes in Southeastern Michigan that lack one or more of these amenities. While a majority of occupied homes throughout the region do have a heating source, indoor plumbing, phone service, and a full kitchen, the maps below show that the communities with the highest percentage of homes that lack such amenities are typically located in the more rural and urban areas of the region, not suburban areas.

Slide10 Homes without Plumbing

Detroit homes without plumbing

In Southeastern Michigan in 2013, there were only two communities, Inkster (1.5 percent) and Northville Township (1.8 percent), where between 1.5 and 2 percent of occupied homes were without complete plumbing (lacking either a toilet, a bathtub or shower, and/or running water). At a national level, about 1.6 million people are without complete indoor plumbing, according to a 2014 Washington Post article.

In 2013, 1.2 percent of the occupied homes in the city of Detroit were without complete plumbing facilities and this equated to 93 different census tracts in the city having homes without some type of complete plumbing facility. According to a 2013 post titled “Still Living without the Basics in the 21st Century” from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, those living in densely populated urban areas and sparsely populated rural communities are more likely to live in a home without complete plumbing facilities, particularly if they live below the federal poverty level. In a post earlier this year, we detailed how a majority of the census tracts in the city of Detroit in 2013 had 50 percent or more of its children living below the poverty line. We also know that the median income in the city was $26,325 in 2013, which fell $26,721 below the national median income.

Homes without heating sources

Detroit homes without Heating sources

In Southeastern Michigan, the highest percentage of occupied homes without a heating source, meaning they lack heating equipment, were located in the rural communities on the outskirts of the region. In total, there were four communities in the region (two in St. Clair County and two in Livingston County) where between 1.5 percent and 2.2 percent of occupied homes did not have a heating source.

While Detroit wasn’t one of the roughly 55 communities in the region where all occupied homes had a heating source, about 0.6 percent of occupied homes in Detroit were without one. A closer look at the city though shows that up to 33 percent of the occupied homes in some census tracts were without a heating source. There were 27 census tracts throughout the city where between 3 and 33 percent of occupied homes were without a heating source. Seven of these census tracts were located along I-96. Additionally, there were two other clusters of occupied homes – just south of Hamtramck and Highland Park and in the downtown area – with the highest percentage of homes with no fuel source.

For those homes throughout the region that do have a heating source, utility gas was the most common source, followed by electricity.

Homes without phone service

Detroit homes without phone service

In 2013, up to 8.2 percent of occupied homes in Southeastern Michigan lacked any type of phone service (cell and/or landline), according to the American Community Survey. Those communities with the higher percentages of homes lacking phone service were primarily located in the more urban areas of the region, such as Detroit, Highland Park, and Pontiac, and the rural areas, such as several communities located throughout St. Clair, Livingston, and Monroe counties.

There were eight communities in the region where all occupied households had phone service. Four of these communities were located in Washtenaw County, two were located in Oakland County, one was in Macomb County, and another was in St. Clair County.

The city of Detroit was one of the 32 communities where between 3.1 and 8.2 percent of homes lacked phone service. In total, 4.8 percent of occupied homes in the city were without phone service. A drill down into the city shows that nearly half of the census tracts had between 3 and 33 percent of occupied homes without phone service.

Homes without a full kitchen

Detroit homes without a full kitchen

Northville Township and the city of Chelsea were the only two communities in the region where more than 3.1 percent of occupied homes did not have a full kitchen in 2013. In Chelsea, 5.6 percent of the homes were without a full kitchen and in Northville that number was 3.3 percent. According to the Census, having a full kitchen means having a sink with a faucet, a stove or a range and a refrigerator.


The city of Detroit was one of 22 communities where between 1.1 and 2 percent of homes were without a full kitchen. In Detroit, 1.7 percent of occupied homes were without a full kitchen. When looking at Detroit at the census tract level though we see that in more than 50 census tracts up to 18 percent of occupied homes were without a full kitchen.

While access to a full kitchen, whether it be lacking a stove or refrigerator or both, is a true day-to-day problem for many people, sometimes an occupied home lacks a full kitchen because it is in the process of being remodeled.

Suicide, Substance Use Causing Increased Mortality Rates Among White, Middle-aged Men

Suicide rates are increasing and locally the number of suicides were either highest among those 20-44 or 45-74, as detailed in a recent Drawing Detroit blog post. According to a recent New York Times article, suicide is a cause of death that is not only growing in Southeastern Michigan, but nationally. Throughout the state of Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death for white males between the ages of 35 and 49 (244 suicides total).

The article details recent research conducted by Princeton Economists Angus Deaton and Anne Case, which concludes that the rising death rates among middle-aged white men are being caused by suicides and issues related to substance use. According to the article, the mortality rate for white Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 with no more than a high school education increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people. While the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services does not detail mortality rates by race, age and education level explicitly on its website, it does show that the mortality rate from white males between the ages of 45 and 54 increased from 469.7 to 494.4 between 2000 and 2013. Just as the death rate for white American males is increasing nationally, Michigan is also experiencing the plight.

While suicide rates have contributed to the growing mortality rate for this segment of the population, Deaton and Case found that suicide coupled with deaths caused by drug use and alcohol poisoning are what explained the increased mortality rate.

No direct explanations were discovered for the increase in suicide deaths and deaths caused by drug and alcohol use, however, Deaton found that increases in mortality rates for middle aged white men were parallel with the same population’s reports on distress, pain and poor health. This correlation, he said, could be used a rationale for the increase in the type of deaths.


For more on this article click here.

To learn more about suicide rates in Southeastern Michigan click here.