Life Expectancy Declines in Michigan, US

The average life expectancy for Americans decreased in 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and the same goes for Michiganders.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, which is run by the Centers for Disease Control, the average life expectancy of an American in 2019 was 79 years of age and by 2020 that decreased 77 years of age. In 2021, the National Center for Health Statistics reported the average life expectancy of an American decreased to 76 years of age. For Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health did not have data for 2021, but for 2020 the average life expectancy of males and females, both white and black, declined.

The first chart below shows that between 2019 and 2020 the life expectancy for females declined from 80.6 years of age to 79.2; for males the average life expectancy declined from 75.7 years of age to 73.6. Prior to the reported 2022 average life expectancy ages, the last times they were as low was in 2002 for females (79 years of age) and 1999 for males (73.4 years of age).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the top 10 contributing factors to death for those who live in Michigan in 2020 were:

•Heart Disease (117,087 deaths)

•Cancer (21,118)

•COVID-19 (11,362)

•Accidents (6,044)

•Stroke (5,873)

•Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (5,644)

•Alzheimer’s Disease (4,860)

•Diabetes (3,408)

•Kidney Disease (1,940)

•And Influenza, Pneumonia (1,880)

While we know the leading causes of death, it is believed by the CDC that the pandemic likely drove the recent decline in the average life expectancy for Americans, across the board. In Michigan, COVID-19 itself attributed to 11,362 deaths in 2020. We also know that the number of deaths related to heart disease, accidents, influenza/pneumonia, kidney disease, diabetes and stroke increased between 2019 and 2020, as did the drug overdose rates.

So, while the numbers above help frame the story as to why Michigan’s average life expectancy is decreasing, digging into the data another way also tells another story.

The Michigan Department of Community Health publicly presents data on the average life expectancy broken down by both sex and race. As shown above, overall, females have long had a higher life expectancy over males. However, when further breaking down the data, we see that black females and white males in Michigan have had nearly the same life expectancy since 1910. In 2020, the average life expectancy for black females in Michigan was 73.3 years of age, a decrease of 3.3 years from 2019. The average life expectancy of white men in Michigan was 75.3 years of age in 2020, a decrease of 1.3 years from 2019. White females in Michigan experienced a 0.9 decrease in average life expectancy, which was the smallest decrease of the four groups. It was black males who had the largest decrease in life expectancy between 2019 and 2020 in Michigan at 4.8 years; in 2020 the average life expectancy for black males in Michigan was reported at 64.9 years of age. The last time the average life expectancy for black males was that low, or lower, was in 1995 when it was reported to be 64.4 years of age.

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the top leading causes of death for black males in Michigan in 2020 were:

•Heart Disease (2,430 deaths)

•COVID-19 (1,610)

•Malignant neoplasms (1,272)

•Accidents (799)

•Assault ( 512)

Note that assault is not even among the overall the top 10 causes for Michigan citizens overall.

While we mentioned the effect COVID-19 has had on life expectancy, as well as drug overdoses and the increase mortality rates related to other diseases, it should also be noted that number of individuals with access to health care has increased in recent years. So, as the average life expectancy is decreasing, more individuals are receiving greater access to health care, an odd result, but probably the effect of COVID has overtaken the benefits of better care.

Overall, decline in life expectancy for all sexes and races is concerning as it means people are dying earlier than they should be.

Inflation Puts Strain on Food Banks, Families in Southeastern Michigan

Rising inflation is hitting people all over the metropolitan area. For example, food banks are experiencing increased use, according to local media outlets. In the Metro-Detroit area major food banks include Gleaners Community Bank and Forgotten Harvest; these organizations not only supply food to those in need via their mobile food pantries and sponsored distribution events; they also provide food to soup kitchens, other organizations’ food pantries and other programs. According to MichiganRadio.org, in March of 2022 Gleaners Community Food Bank had about 13,000 visits to its mobile food pantries; the average number of visits in the six months prior to that was about 9,000. Feeding America West Michigan experienced a 34 percent increase in visits between February and March of 2022, according to the April 2022 Michigan Radio. A recent Model D article states that the Capuchin Soup Kitchen experienced a 25 percent increase in visits in the last year. Additionally, the same Model D Media article reports that Forgotten Harvest recorded a 30 percent increase month-to-month between April, May and June of this year. According to the article, Forgotten Harvest served 16,000 individuals in the month of June— 10,400 more than in the same month last year.

The charts below show just what inflation means to the average person. For example, in the first chart below, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the cost of meat, poultry, fish and eggs has increased by 8.4 percent in the Metro-Detroit area between July of 2021 and July of 2022. Dairy has increased by about 20 percent in that time frame and cereal and bakery goods have increased by about 19.3 percent. As we know, not only are food prices increasing but so is the cost of housing, utilities and gas. Gasoline has experienced the largest consumer price index increase in the last year at 63.9 percent.

Another way to view inflation is to understand how the value of a dollar, or $100, has changed. The chart below uses $100 in June of 2000 as a reference point to show inflation over the last 22 years. So, for example, $171.46 today would be the same as $100 in June of 2000. In other words, the purchasing power of the dollar has continually decreased, except between 2008 and 2009. Between 2020 and 2022 the purchasing power of the dollar has had the largest decrease since 2000. Between 2020 and 2022 there was a $21.52 difference in the power of the dollar. What you could buy for $149.74 in 2020 increased to $171.46. And again, these dollar figures are comparable to what $100 would be worth in 2000.

The data and anecdotal stories show just how inflation, coupled with supply chain issues, are impacting families throughout Michigan, Metro-Detroit and beyond. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Food Bank Council of Michigan received a $50 million one-time allocation in the 2022-23 State Budget to support ensuring families across Michigan could access food. These funds will increase infrastructure to better serve Michigan’s northern counties and Upper Peninsula through decreasing transportation expenses. The funding will also be used to conduct a Hunger Study, providing data to align federal, state and commodity programs to meet residents’ needs. According to the Food Bank Council, it is paying 40 percent more to keep up with food pantry demands across the state.
Additional allocations to food banks will certainly help with the increased use in food pantries, but the State Budget funding was a one-time allocation and the duration of the increased use in food pantries is unknown. The state, and federal government, though are working toward food security through other avenues as well. For example, about 1.3 million people from about 700,000 households in Michigan receive federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through the state’s Food Assistance Program. Since the COVID pandemic began, all household have received the maximum benefits allowed for their size, and this practice continues. Following the May 2021 SNAP benefit amount increase, households of the following sizes are receiving the corresponding max benefit amount:

·One Person: $250  
·Two Persons: $459  
·Three Persons: $658  
·Four Persons: $835  
·Five Persons: $992  
·Six Persons: $1,190  
·Seven Persons: $1,316  
·Eight Persons: $1,504  
In August, households receiving SNAP benefits had an additional $95 added to their Bridge card to help further combat the affect inflation is having on food costs. How long this will last is unknown as federal approval of the increased SNAP benefits is necessary every month.
Schools are also working to create greater food security for students but either adopting a universal free lunch policy for all students, or at least sending free and reduced lunch applications to all households in the district. According to the Kids Count Data Center, 715,000 of Michigan public K-12 students qualified for free or reduced lunches’ income bracket in 2021. During that time though, all students—nationwide—received free lunches as part of a federal program implemented in the height of the COVID pandemic. This school year though, that policy does not exist and Michigan does not have a universal school lunch policy. Detroit Public Schools implemented one though, as have some others throughout the story. For the many districts that do not have such a policy, free and reduced lunch applications are being sent to all homes so eligible students can receive the service. For reduced meals, breakfast is $0.30 and lunch is $0.40. Income eligibility information can be found here.

We know that food banks are meeting, and serving, just some of the thousands upon thousands of individuals being impacted by the affects of inflation. However, long-term assistance to such food banks remains unknown, as direct long-term funding from state entities isn’t certain, and with economic concerns growing, donations may decrease. Food pantries serve a vital role in our community, as do programs such as SNAP and the Free and Reduced School Lunch Program. Food insecurity is an issue hundreds of thousands Americans face daily and long-term strategies to create food security need stronger framework and better funding.

To find a food bank in Michigan click here.

Housing Prices Begin to Stabilize, CPI Takes A Dip in Metro-Detroit

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.

The chart below provides a more detailed look at how unemployment rates are currently, compared to year ago, at the local level. Across all seven counties in Southeastern Michigan unemployment rates were lower in July of 2022 as compared to July of 2021. Wayne County experienced the largest decrease in that year, with the unemployment rate decreasing by 4.9 percent. While Wayne County had the highest unemployment rate in the region in July of 2021 (9.6%), it did not have the highest rate in July of 2022. Rather, Monroe County currently had the highest unemployment rate in the region in July of 2022 at 5.4 percent. Livingston County continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the region at 2.2 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, 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 2022, the region’s prices were down 0.2 percent. The highlights for the change include:

•Food prices increasing 1.2 percent for the month of July (prices for food at home increased 1.5 percent while prices for food outside of the home increased by 0.8 percent)
•Gas prices declining 8.8 percent, which contributed to the energy index decline of 5.7 percent
•Overall, prices without considering food and energy prices, rose by 0.3 percent from the month prior.

When examining the second chart, which shows how prices changed on a year-to-year basis,  we see how prices remain higher than previous years but that there was a decline in the CPI for the month of July between 2021 and 2022.

In July of 2022 the CPI was reported to be 8.6 percent above what it was the year prior (this is lower than the 9.5 percent increased experienced between June of 2021 and 2022). Contributing factors to the continued increase in the CPI include:

•Food prices increasing 12.4 percent over the last year
•Energy prices increasing 34.1 percent over the last year.
•New and used motor vehicles increasing 8.4 percent
•And household furnishings and operations increasing 10.8 percent.
While home prices in Metro-Detroit continue to increase from one month to the next, the rate at which they are increasing is beginning to taper off. According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold was $172,560 in July of 2022; this was a mere $170 higher than the average family dwelling price in June. While the month-to-month increase has slowed down, a look at data from year’s prior is a reminder just how much the average price of a home has increased. Between July of 2022 and 2021 the average price increased $19,960 and between July of 2022 and 2014 the price increased $75,220.


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.

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.

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.

All the Single Ladies (And Gentlemen): Marriage Rates in Southeastern Michigan Continue to Decline

Overall, there was a greater percentage of individuals in Southeastern Michigan who were never been married in 2019 compared to 2010, according to US Census data. In 2019, the county with the highest percentage of married individuals was Livingston County where 58 percent of those who were 15 years of age or older were married; comparatively 63 percent were married in 2010. Wayne County had the lowest percentage of those 15 years of age and older who were married in 2019 at 38 percent, compared to 40 percent who were married in 2010. Overall, each county in Southeastern Michigan experienced a decline between 1 and 4.5 percent of married individuals between 2010 and 2019.

While the percentage of married individuals declined between 2010 and 2019, the percentage of those never married increased. Livingston County experienced a 3.5 percent increase between 2010 and 2019; 22.5 percent of individuals were never married in 2010 and 26 percent were never married in 2019. Overall in 2019 Washtenaw County had the highest percentage of individuals who were never married at 43 percent; Washtenaw County also had the highest percentage of individuals who were never married in 2010 at 40 percent.

As the general data shows, there is a growing trend of individuals not getting married, and a deeper dive into the data also shows that the age group further highlights that trend is the 20-34-year-old age group. According to the Census data, four of the seven counties in the region experienced a 3 to 7 percent increase in the percentage of 20-34-year-old individuals who have never been married between 2010 and 2019. Livingston County experienced the greatest increase at 7 percent; in 2010 56 percent of 20-34-year-olds in Livingston County were never married, and by 2019 that increased to 73 percent. Washtenaw County experienced a 5 percent increase while Macomb and Wayne counties each experienced 3 percent increases. Monroe County was the only one in the region to experience a percent decrease in 20-34-year-olds who were never married; that increase was only 0.3 percent.

In addition to the percent increase of 20-34 year-olds who were never married between 2010 and 2019, there was also a small increase the percentage of 45-54-year-olds who were never married. In that time frame there was a 0.04 to 2.2 percent increase in that age group never married amongst six of the seven counties. Wayne County experienced the largest increase at 2.2 percent; 23 percent of the 45-54-year-olds in Wayne County were married in 2010 and by 2019 that increased to 25.2 percent. St. Clair County was the only one to experience a small decrease; about 1 percent less of the 45-54-year-olds in St. Clair were marred in 2019 compared to 2010.

Just as there were increases in the percentage of 20-34-year-olds and 45-54-year-olds never married amongst the seven counties in the region, there was also a decrease in those getting married amongst those two age groups.

Nationally, the trend of non-married individuals has been increasing since 1990, according to the Pew Research Center. Factors such as different societal priorities, such as increased focus on the workforce, and higher costs of living are in part driving this trend. Furthermore, the Brookings Institute found that marriage rates are also declining amongst the middle class, possibly due to the cost of raising children.

Michigan’s Deaths Out Pace Births

More people died in Michigan in 2020 than were born, and it has been trending this way for quite some time. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2020 there 104,166 people born and 117,087 who died; the 2020 data was only available at the state level. While COVID certainly impacted the number of 2020 deaths (11,362 were COVID related), there still would have been a greater number of deaths than births without the pandemic.

While 2020 data is not yet available at the county level, the 2019 data shows how birth and death rates have long been trending toward more deaths than births. In Wayne County, the largest county in the state, a birth rate of 12.9 births per 1,000 residents was reported, which was equivalent to 22,553 births. Wayne County had the highest birth rate in the region in 2019, but it did not have the largest change in birth rates between 2009 and 2019. According to the data, there was a birth rate of 12.9 births per 1,000 residents in Wayne County in 2019 and a birth rate of 13.6 births per 1,000 residents in 2009. Washtenaw County had the largest difference in birth rates between 2009 and 2019 at a rate decrease of 1.4 per 1,000 residents. In 2019 Washtenaw County had a birth rate of 9.7, which was equivalent to 3,560 births, and in 2009 that birth rate was 11.1. Oakland, Macomb, Monroe and St. Clair counties all also reported birth rates above 10 in 2009 (11.1, 11.1, 11.4 and 10.9, respectively); Livingston County was the only one in the region to report a birth rate below 10 in 2009. By 2019 only Macomb, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne counties reported birth rates above 10 (10.4, 10.1, 10.3 and 12.9, respectively).

Michigan’s birth rate per 1,000 residents was 11.8 in 2009 and 10.8 in 2019.

As birth rates in Michigan were declining, death rates were on the rise. In 2019, St. Clair County had the highest death rate at 1,170.8 per 1,000 residents in 2019, which was equivalent to 1,863 deaths. Macomb, Monroe and Wayne counties were the only other counties with death rates above 1,000 ( 1,026.2, 1,047.8 and 1,044.7, respectively). In 2009 though there was not one county in the region with a death rate above 1,000. St. Clair County reported 961.5 deaths per 1,000 residents, which was the highest death rate in the region reported. Overall, Monroe County experienced the highest increase in its death rate between 2009 (847 per 1,000 residents) and 2019 (1,047.8 per 1,000 residents) at a 221.8 rate increase per 1,000 residents.  

It should also be noted that Michigan’s death rate per 1,000 residents was 871.7 in 2009 and 992.3 in 2019.

A decline in births will certainly impact Michigan long-term if things don’t turn around. While

 Michigan did experience a small uptick in its population between 2010 and 2020 probably because of immigration, the rate of increase wasn’t as high as compared to other states, hence why Michigan lost a Congressional seat. Population decline, and even stagnation, could cause negative economic impacts and further loss of political power. On the other hand, it would give the environment a break from human interventions, giving forests and wildlife a chance to expand, perhaps.  

Union Membership in Michigan Rises

In 2020 there was an increase in the percentage of employees who were members of a union; there was also an increase the percentage of employees who were represented by unions. This comes after an overall decline in union membership and representation since 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2010 16.5 percent of employees were members of a union in Michigan and 17. 3 percent were represented by a union. In 2020 15.2 percent of employees were members of a union and 16.6 percent were represented by a union; both categories experienced increases from 2019. Overall in Michigan in 2020 there were 604,000 union members.   In addition to these members, another 57,000 wage and salary workers in Michigan were represented by a union on their main job or covered by an employee association or contract while not union members themselves.

While the BLS does not track union membership by sector or occupation at the state level, nationally the BLS reports that the union membership rate of public-sector workers is more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers who are union members. According to the BLS, 33.9 percent of the public-sector employees were union members in 2021. Of those public-sector employees in the union, majority were represented those in the education, training, library and protective service occupations. The percentage of private-sector employees who were union members was 6.1 percent in 2021. According to the BLS, and a recent New York Times article, majority of the union membership decline has come from the private sector. Nationally, private-sector union membership was at 6 percent in 2021 and in 1983 it was at 17 percent.

Overall there are a greater number of private-sector employees than government employees, and while the charts below show there was a decline in the total number of employees in both sectors after COVID, the lack of union representation in the private-sector is causing, at least some, to leave their jobs, according to the New York Times article. With a shift in the labor market and workplace practices since the pandemic began, more and more workers are feeling confident in their ability to leave jobs that don’t fit their needs. While the New York Times sites that this doesn’t always leave to increased union activity, the current labor market has certainly allowed more people to be more vocal and how their employer can meet their needs, and not just the other way around.

Labor unions have experienced an overall increase in sentiment since 2009, according to Gallup, with 68 percent of those polled expressing approval of labor unions in 2021. This approval rate is the highest it has been since 1965 when there was a 71 percent approval rating. With increased media attention on the successful efforts of employees at Kellogg in Battle Creek, Kroger (King Sooper) employees in Denver, and more throughout the country to earn better wages and benefits, it should not be surprising there is an increased interest and approval in the purpose of a union. Additionally, with the makeup of the current labor market, as noted earlier, individuals have more room to seek jobs that offer better wages, benefits and overall safer and better experience—much of which the mission of unions is based around.