Boston Edison/Dexter Linwood Area of Detroit Has Highest Percentage of Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels

In 2019, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported 1,299 children under 6 years old had Elevated Blood Lead Levels (EBLL) in the City of Detroit. The Detroit zip code with the highest percentage of children under the age of 6 with EBLL was 48206, which is located in the Boston Edison/Dexter Linwood area of the City. Here, 15.5 percent of tested children under the age of 6 had an EBLL. Overall, there were 8 zip codes in Detroit where 10 percent or more of tested children under the age of 6 had an EBLL. Furthermore, the number of children with EBLL is likely substantially under reported of the true number. This is because only a third of the eligible children are tested, so if all were tested, it is likely than many more would have an EBLL. In addition, testing has substantially decreased during the pandemic.

The 8 zip codes with EBLL above 10 percent in Detroit in 2019 were:

  • 48202 (10.6%)
  • 48203 (10.5%)
  • 48204 (13.1%)
  • 48206 (15.5%)
  • 48213 (14.4%)
  • 48214 (12.3%)
  • 48215 (10.4%)
  • 48238 (10.9%)

These neighborhoods are amongst the oldest residential neighborhoods in the Detroit-Metro area. And, with a few exceptions, the zip codes with high numbers of children with EBLL have high percentages of black residents. The first map below shows the zip codes in Detroit with the percentage of children under the age of 6 with EBLL; the second map shows the percentage of black residents in Detroit and Metro-Detroit. The overlap is apparent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe level of lead, and even a small amount can cause irreversible damage. Yet, in Detroit several areas continue to be plagued with by lead exposure. There are several reasons behind this, many of which are impacted by income, poverty, access to safe and updated housing.

Lead paint was banned from use in 1978 yet there are more than 337,000 homes in Detroit built before 1980 (when lead paint came off the shelves), according to Census data. Additionally, income directly impacts what type of housing an individual and/or a family can afford. With a median income of $31,000 and 35 percent of families in the City living at or below the poverty level it is fair to suggest that many families are living in older, less expensive housing where hazardous issues are likely more prevalent, and these families cannot afford the $20,000 to $40,000 cost of abating the major lead hazards in the home. Lead paint is a top contributor to lead poisoning and without it being mitigated, lead poisoning will continue. Additionally, some children are lead poisoned through soil, spices, pottery and water. Also, leaded gasoline and demolitions have added lead dust to the soils in Detroit.

Children’s cognitive and physical health will continue to be impacted without mitigation of lead poisoning and its causes, specifically lead paint remaining in homes throughout the City. Children with EBLL can be impacted by the following side effects of the neurotoxin of lead:

 •Decreased Intelligence

•Decreased impulse control and thus increases reactivity

•Calcium deficiencies

•ADHD and Behavioral issues

•Osteoporosis

•Decreased school performance

•Permanent damage to kidneys and the heart

Concerns over lead poisoning and the resources needed to eliminate it have long been a topic of discussion, however without funding there can be no action. Funding needs to be direct and plentiful as well.  So a multi-faceted plan needs to provide regular lead testing, funding for lead abatement, and relocation means to get families out of homes that aren’t worth salvaging and into safer ones. Lead abatement and housing relocation programs exist, but the necessary funding to make a greater impact and create long-term sustainability clear has not been realized.

Long-term funding and policies to reduce and eventually eliminate lead poisoning should include:

•Universal blood lead testing for all children under 6 in each County in Southeast Michigan;

•A required Lead Investigation/Risk Assessment (LI/RA) for all homes at sale (for homes built before 1980) and required abatement of hazards, when they are found.

•A requirement for all landlords to complete a LI/RA and abate all hazards for homes older than 1980.

•An increase in the home abatements in Metro-Detroit by 400-500% annually.

•The financial and programmatic ability to support the relocation of several hundred households a year, where abatement is not available for their homes.

•A cleaning program for homes where children or pregnant women are living, and/or where a child has been identified with an EBLL or the home has lead paint hazards. This program would provide ongoing training and support to teach and incentivize families to super clean their homes until their home can be abated or until the family can relocate.

Majority of Detroit Home Problems Involve Water Inside

There are household problems, and then there are home problems. Home problems range from lead paint to inadequate infrastructure to high utility costs. The respondents of the 2021 Detroit Citizen Survey were provided a list of home problems and asked to identify which ones apply to their house or apartment. There were 570 respondents to this question and of those a total of 1,111 problems were identified.

High utility costs was the most common problem, which was identified by 275 people or 48 percent of the respondents. Water or dampness in the basement was the second most identified problem and plumbing issues was the third. Four of the five top problems (mentioned by 83% of householders) concern water in the home, and mold is later mentioned by another 9 percent. Water and dampness in homes is highly correlated with asthma, which is one of the most frequently occurring problems for children and adults in Detroit.

The University of Michigan recently produced a study titled “A Decent Home: The Status of Home Repair in Detroit,” which found that more than 24,000 housing units in Detroit are “severely or moderately inadequate,” but only about 3,000 residents were able to access funds to fix the problems. These funds are aimed at low income residents and provided through grants or loans.

A little background about Detroit’s housing stock, according to the US Census Bureau, 78 percent of Detroit’s housing stock was built before 1960. Of the occupied housing units in the City, 75 percent are worth less than $100,000. Additionally, 67 percent of the occupied rental units have rental prices of less than $1,000. The age of housing and its cost plays a role in ongoing home problems, as does the average income of a household. According to a Bridge Detroit article, 73 percent of Detroit renters earned less than $35,000 in 2019, and about half of those households spent at least 50 percent of their monthly income on rent in. This means either less money for home repairs or having to live in housing units that are less than desirable.

The City of Detroit does have a 0% Home Repair Loans Program that offers zero percent interest loans from $5,000 to $25,000 to help Detroit homeowners invest in and repair their homes. Projects that are eligible for funding through this program include correcting health and safety hazards, electrical repairs, furnace replacement, roof replacement and plumbing. Jefferson East Inc. and Rocket Community Foundations are two other organizations in the City that offer funding for home repairs

What Can Detroit Can Do for Its Citizens: Their View

The Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies worked with MDP Black Caucus to develop the 2021 Detroit Resident Survey. This survey, based upon a random sample of Detroit residents found that the top area of improvement citizens want is community and neighborhood improvement/blight reduction. The second most frequently sought improvement was a reduction in crime together with an increase in community safety. Overall, there were 18 general areas that survey respondents said the City of Detroit can do to help them and their household. The 621 respondents to the survey made 437 suggestions on how the City can be improved.

As noted, the most common suggestion on what Detroit can do for citizens is to improve its community and neighborhoods and remove blight. Thirteen percent of respondents, or 55 citizens, made this suggestion. Eleven percent of respondents, or 46 citizens, suggested reducing crime and increasing community safety.

Blight and neighborhood improvements have long been a concern in the City of Detroit and while work has been done over the last several years, clearly residents still have concerns–as do community leaders. Between 2014 and 2020 more than 15,000 homes in the City of Detroit were knocked down with $265 million in federal funding. There are about 22,000 vacant properties left in the City that need to be addressed; the recent passage of Detroit’s Proposal N states the $250 million bond will allow an additional 8,000 to be razed and 6,000 to be secured.

On behalf of the Gilbert Family Foundation and Rocket Community Foundation, Dan and Jennifer Gilbert pledged $500 million over the next 10 years toward improving the Detroit community. The first $15 million will go toward paying the property taxes of 20,000 low income homeowners in the City. How the remainder of the donation will be spent has yet to be determined, but it could go toward things like digital equity, home repairs, housing access and employment. It is agreed upon though that with the funding must come a long-term strategy.

A reduction in blight can also improve community safety, according to a study by Wayne State University criminologists Matthew Larson and Charles Klahm IV. Larson and Klahm looked at Detroit crime data in areas where nearly 9,400 blighted homes were demolished between 2010 to 2014. According to their study they found that such blight demolitions reduced violent and property crimes. The study found that for about every three demolitions block-groups experienced about a 1 percent reduction in crime.

With a host of suggestions on how the City of Detroit can improve life for its residents it should not be a surprise than on a scale of 1-10 2021 Detroit Resident Survey respondents ranked their satisfaction with City leadership at a 5.75. Respondents rated their satisfaction with Wayne County leadership at a 5.62, at 6.9 with the State of Michigan’s leadership and 5.35 with the leadership at the federal level.

Tomorrow, we will further dig into the concerns of Detroit citizens, highlighting specific household and community concerns.

Southeastern Michigan’s Moral Rural Counties Have Among Lowest Percentage of Adults with Bachelor’s, Masters Degrees

Understanding the educational attainment levels of a geographical location is important because it impacts employment rates, average income levels, job markets and other socioeconomic factors. Educational attainment is also dependent on several factors including, geography, family structure, transportation and access to educational opportunities. The majority of communities in Southeastern Michigan have 25 percent or more of their 25 years of age and older population with only a high diploma or equivalent. Furthermore, there are 14 communities in the region where 40 percent or more of that specific age population who had only attained a high school diploma or equivalent, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau. In Southeastern Michigan, Cottrelleville Township in St. Clair County had the highest percentage of residents 25 years of age or older with only a high school diploma at 48 percent. Exeter Township in Monroe County had the second highest percentage of residents with only a high school diploma at 44 percent. Both of these communities are outside of the inner-ring urban suburbs and are much less densely populated. There were several inner-ring suburbs though where a high school diploma was often the highest level of educational attainment. For example, in both Ecorse and Lincoln Park and 40 percent of the 25 years of age or older population only had a high school diploma or equivalent; in Hazel Park that percentage was 37 percent. In the City of Detroit 32 percent of  25 years of age or older population had only a high school diploma or equivalent. Pleasant Ridge had the lowest percentage of residents with only a high school diploma at 5 percent.

Just as Pleasant Ridge had the lowest percentage of residents 25 years of age or older with only a high school diploma it also had the highest percentage of residents in that age frame with a bachelor’s degree. In Pleasant Ridge 40 percent of the  25 years of age or older population had a bachelor’s degree; the same was true for Grosse Pointe Farms and Lake Angelus. Overall, Oakland and Washtenaw counties had the highest percentage of residents 25 years of age or older with a bachelor’s degree. While Cottrelleville Township in St. Clair County had the highest percentage of residents with only a high school diploma or equivalent, it did not have the lowest percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree. Ecorse, Hamtramck and Highland Park all had populations 25 years of age or older where only 7 percent of the residents had a bachelor’s degree. In Detroit,  9 percent of the 25 years of age or older had a bachelor’s degree. While there was a concentration in Detroit and its direct neighbors with low college education attainment, this was also true for the more rural counties. Clay Township in St. Clair County had among the lowest percentage of residents  25 years of age or older with a bachelor’s degree at 9 percent, as did London and Luna townships. Several of the communities in St. Clair and Monroe counties had 15 percent or less of residents  25 years of age or older with a bachelor’s degree.

As one may expect, those with among the highest percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree also had higher percentages of residents with a master’s degree. In Ann Arbor Township 55 percent of the 25 years of age or older population earned a master’s degree; in the City of Ann Arbor 44 percent had the same level of educational attainment. These were the highest percentages in the region of those who obtained a master’s degree. In the City of Detroit 6 percent of the 25 years of age or older population earned a master’s degree. In areas such as St. Clair and Monroe counties the percentage with a masters were mostly in the single digits; this was also true for many of the immediate inner-ring suburbs.

While there is a high percentage of residents 25 years of age or older with only a high school diploma Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently unveiled a program that promises free community college tuition to residents 25 and older. This program is to make it easier for Michigan residents to earn a form of higher education. According to the State of Michigan, about 4.1 million of Michigan’s 10 million residents qualify for the program, which is called Michigan Reconnect. Furthermore, about 3 million of those who qualify are between the ages of 25-64, according to Census data.

Where are the Irish at in Southeastern Michigan?

Everyone acts as if they have the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but according to Census data those with that ancestral luck are in the minority. According to 2019 ancestral data, Livingston County had the highest percentage of residents with Irish ancestry at 14 percent, followed by St. Clair County with 13 percent of the population claiming Irish ancestry. Wayne County had the lowest percentage at 7 percent. A closer look at the region through Census Tract data shows that an area in Grosse Pointe had the highest percentage of those with Irish ancestry at 30 percent; other pockets with some of the highest percentages were near Ann Arbor, Port Huron, White Lake and Farmington Hills. Statewide, 11 percent of Michiganders reported Irish ancestry.

Understanding our ancestry is important, and the Census data not only shows breakdowns of origins from specific countries and regions, but also the percentages of those with single or multiple ancestral roots. Ancestry refers to one’s ethnic origin or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States. Throughout Southeastern Michigan each county had more than a third of its population report single ancestry data. Oakland County had the highest percentage of residents with a single ancestry at 53 percent, followed by Macomb County where 52 percent of the population reported a single ancestry of origin. Livingston County had the lowest percentage of residents with a single ancestry origin at 40 percent, conversely it had the highest percentage of multiple ancestry residents at 42 percent. Note that the percentages reported for multiple and single ancestry in the maps below do not add up to 100 percent, that is because the Census also accounts for those who do not report ancestry.

While the Irish are at the top of everyone’s minds this week, much of Michigan’s ancestry is comprised of those with German decent at 19 percent. Additionally, in Southeastern Michigan we have an enclave of those of Arab descent. While those with Arab roots make up 2 percent of Michigan’s population, in Wayne County they make up 6 percent of the population and in Macomb and Oakland counties they make up 3 percent of the populations.  When examining the data at the Census Tract level we see that the Dearborn-Dearborn Heights area has between 14-80 percent of the population (depending on the tract) with Arab roots. Other areas with high Arab ancestral roots are Hamtramck (up to 39 percent) and West Bloomfield (up to 25 percent), Bloomfield (up to 13 percent) and Sterling Heights (up to 15 percent).

Understanding a region’s ancestry helps bring historical knowledge on who helped grow the region, a community and even a neighborhood and its culture. As we continue to evolve as a society many of us still try to cling to our ancestral roots, showcasing positive traditions of the past. With migration amongst cities, states and countries being fluid we must also make way for new traditions and take time to understand the cultures of all those around us.

Economic Indicators: Unemployment Rates, Housing Costs Remain Higher than Pre-COVID

We are a year into the COVID pandemic, unemployment rates have peaked and then declined, but they are still substantially higher than a year ago. Average home prices have increased as demand for homes has increased. Broader consumption trends though, while they are faring better than nearly a year ago, have yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels. Below we show just how these various indicators have changed over the last year.

In December of 2020 the unemployment rates for the State of Michigan and for the City of Detroit continued to increase after declines following the initial unemployment spikes due to COVID-19. The State of Michigan reported an unemployment rate of 7.3 in December, a higher rate than what was reported in November, which was 6.3. For the City of Detroit, the unemployment rate for December of 2020 was 20.3, which is higher than the November rate of 18.7. The December unemployment data further highlights how the unemployment gap between the State and Detroit continues to grow wider as the COVID case numbers increased rapidly over the holidays.

In line with what was reported above, COVID impacted unemployment rates at the county level in Michigan as well. In December of 2020 each county in Southeastern Michigan had a significantly higher unemployment rate than the year prior. According to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, Wayne County experienced the largest increase at about 8 points. In December of 2020 Wayne County had an unemployment rate of 12.4 and in December of 2019 it was 4.5. Washtenaw County experienced the smallest increase at 1.5 points. In December of 2020 Washtenaw County had an unemployment rate of 3.6 and in December of 2019 it was 2.1. While there were overall unemployment increases, the differences in the unemployment percentages between each county is, at least in part, dependent on the type of jobs available in each county and the occupations of residents. For example, in Wayne County the top occupations are office and administrative support, production and sales and food service. In Washtenaw County the top occupations are office and administrative support, education instruction, health care practitioners and food service workers. Throughout much of the year some positions related to office and administrative support and food service have been considered non-essential or experienced higher layoff rates while those in health care and education have been at less risk of being unemployed.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released data on the per capita personal income by county for 2019, showing that overall incomes in Southeastern Michigan did grow between 2018 and 2019. In 2019 Oakland County had the highest per capita personal income at $72,271 but it had the lowest percent change between 2018 and 2019 at 2.7 percent.  Wayne County had the lowest per capital personal income at $44,512 with the percent change from the year prior being 3.3 percent. St. Clair County had the lowest percent change in per capita income between 2018 and 2019 and 2.7 percent; its per capita personal income in 2019 was $45,662.

When examining personal income growth between 2017-18 and 2018-19 the percent change was lowest for the most recent year of data, as opposed to the growth from between 2017-18.

We have yet to know what the impact COVID will have on personal income for 2020, but the data below does show that growth was already beginning to slow down prior to the pandemic. That coupled with higher rates of unemployment, business closures and decreases in spending on goods and services may very well mean lower personal incomes for 2020.

The automobile industry continues to be a driving force in Michigan’s economy and the latest data on vehicle sales show that the number of auto sales for lightweight vehicles has been steadily increasing in recent months while light truck and car sales slightly declined in February of 2021. However, compared to a year ago, sales still remain below what they were. In February of 2021 auto sales for: sales of light weight vehicles were 16.5 million, compared to 16.8 million the year prior; light truck sales were 12.3 million compared to 12.5 million in February of 2020; car sales were 3.4 million, compared to 4.2 million the year prior.

Below shows the consumption expenditures of goods in the U.S. between 2019 and 2021. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, durable goods have an average useful life of at least 3 years (e.g. motor vehicles) while nondurable goods have an average useful life of less than 3 years (e.g. food) and services are commodities that cannot be stored or inventoried and are consumed at the time of purchase (e.g., dining out). The chart below shows how services have yet to make it back to the pre-COVID consumption levels, but the consumption of durable and non-durable goods have risen. In January of 2021 $8,016 billion in services was consumed, $2,148 billion in goods was consumed and $3,206 billion in nondurable goods was consumed.

According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $139,240 in November of 2020; this was $145 higher than the average family dwelling price in October. The November 2020 price was an increase of $11,770 from November of 2019 and $15,200 from November of 2018. So, just as unemployment rates remain higher than what they were a year ago so do average home prices. This is interesting though because with higher unemployment rates traditionally comes lower incomes and hesitation around the housing market. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shown, the average price for a home has been increasing despite higher unemployment rates. Demand for existing homes has been up substantially across the nation over the last year

Commute Times, Mobility Decline in COVID Times

In 2019, before COVID, the average American spent 28 minutes commuting to, or from, their job; in Michigan that average was 25 minutes. However, once the pandemic hit many of us began working from home, which directly impacted mobility to and from workplaces and commute times, presumably. According to a Feb. 23, 2021 report from Google, mobility to places of work in the State of Michigan have declined by 29 percent. At a regional level in Southeastern Michigan mobility has declined even more than the state average since last March. According to the data, mobility declined by the following percentages for the seven counties in Southeastern Michigan from the pre-pandemic baseline:

  • Livingston County: 31 percent
  • Macomb County: 33 percent
  • Monroe County: 22 percent
  • Oakland: 41 percent
  • St Clair County: 15 percent
  • Washtenaw County: 49 percent
  • Wayne County: 35 percent

While mobility data differs from commute data, the fact that people are going to work less means commute times will also decline. Below are two maps showing the average work commute times in 2019 at the municipal and county levels. 

In 2019, the City of Ann Arbor had the lowest average commute time at 20 minutes, according to the American Community Survey, and Clay Township had the highest average commute time at 37 minutes. At the county level, Washtenaw County (where Ann Arbor is located) had the lowest average commute time at 24 minutes and Livingston County had the highest average commute time at 33 minutes. 

When the 2020 commute data is available it will be interesting to see just how many minutes the average commute time declined in Southeastern Michigan, and if that trend lasts for the long-term. Declined commute times and mobility to and from places of work means several things, including less automobile pollution and more time for individuals to participate in leisure activities, perform additional work, do chores or anything else that may be of interest to them. 

Inner-Ring Detroit Suburbs Have Highest Vacancy Rates in 2019

In 2019, Highland Park had the highest vacancy rate in Southeastern Michigan at 34 percent, according to the American Community Survey; the vacancy rate is the percentage of all available units in a rental property, such as a hotel or apartment complex, that are vacant or unoccupied. Clay Township (St. Clair County) had the second highest vacancy rate at 30 percent and Detroit had the third highest rate at 27percent. There were only seven communities in the region with vacancy rates at or above 20 percent; of those communities four were Detroit or an inner-ring suburb (Highland Park, River Rouge and Eastpointe) and the remaining three were outer-ring suburbs (Clay, Burtchville and Lyndon townships). While there were a handful of outer-ring suburbs with high vacancy rates, those with the lowest vacancy rates were all outer-ring suburbs. Orchard Lake Village had the lowest vacancy rate in 2019 at 1.4 percent, followed by Clarkston at 1.6 percent and Plymouth and Augusta townships at 1.8 percent. The inner-ring suburb with the lowest vacancy rate was Southfield Township at 4.1 percent, followed by Allen Park at 4.9 percent. 

In knowing that the Detroit inner-ring suburbs had among the highest vacancy rates in the region, it is not surprising that Wayne County had the highest vacancy rate at the county-level at 15.5 percent. However, St. Clair County had the second highest vacancy rate at 12 percent; St. Clair County is home to the community with the highest vacancy rate (Clay Township). When breaking down the type of vacancies that makeup each county’s overall percentage though Wayne County did not rank the highest amongst any of the categories. The breakdown of vacancy types-housings units for sale, housings units for rent and “other” (described below)-is only available at the county level. So, while we cannot fully understand the specifics of vacancy rates at the municipal level, the county data does give us some insight.

According to the data, Livingston County had the highest percentage of vacant homes for sale at 18 percent, followed by Macomb County at 14 percent and then Wayne County at 10 percent. For rental vacancies, Oakland County had the highest percentage at 31 percent and Macomb County at 26 percent; Wayne County had an 11 percent vacancy rate for rentals. Overall we see that rental units tend to have higher vacancy rates than homes for sale; the rental vacancy rate may grow even higher in areas such as Detroit where demand for rentals is down just as new apartment buildings are opening, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A property is labeled as “other” vacant by the U.S. Census Bureau when it does not fit into one of the categories discussed above. According to the U.S. Census Bureau “other” properties are typically vacant because the owner does not want to rent or sell it; it is being used for storage; the elderly homeowners are living in a nursing home; it’s in an estate settlement; it is being repaired or renovated or it is in foreclosure. According to the data at the County level, St. Clair County had the highest percentage of “other” vacant properties (as described above) at 88 percent, followed by Wayne County at 79 percent. Macomb County had the lowest percentage at 60 percent. This data was only available at the county level.

While the breakdown of vacancy rates is only available at the County level it does shed some light on why certain communities may have some of the highest vacancy rates. For example, we know that communities such as Highland Park and Detroit have higher vacancy rates due houses being abandoned and people leaving those cities for outer-ring suburbs. Furthermore, according to Next Gen City, the highest vacancy rates are in areas that have the highest population of black residents; Detroit and Highland Park have the highest black populations in the State of Michigan. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the economy it will interesting to see how vacancy rates change in the future.

Marriage Rates Declining in Southeastern Michigan

The day of love just passed, and data shows the tradition of marriage may be becoming a thing of the past too. According to the 2019 American Community Survey fewer people were married in 2019 in Southeastern Michigan than in 2010. 

As shown in the first map below, compared to the second map, each of the seven counties in the region had a lower percentage of married individuals in 2019, with Wayne County having the lowest percentage of married individuals. In Wayne County, 39 percent of the population was married in 2010, and by 2019 that percentage had dropped to 36 percent.  Livingston County had the highest percentage of married individuals. In 2019 61 percent of the population in Livingston County was married, and in 2010 64 percent of the county was married. Monroe County experienced the largest decline between 2010 and 2019; in 2010 58 percent of the population was married, and in 2019 that decreased to 53 percent.

Declining marriage rates have been a trend for nearly two decades now, and this is likely due to economic and social trends. According to the Brookings Institute, as marriage rates decline, non-marital births, cohabitation and single parenthood have all been increasing. Furthermore, education and income levels also play a role in current marriage trends. For example, those with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely to get married than those without such a degree, according to the Brookings Institute. Additionally, marriage rates are declining the most in the middle class. Potential reasons for such declines include economic instability for both men and women, wage inequalities and the concern over the cost of children.

In addition to the percentage of people getting married declining, so is the percentage of married individuals with children. Between 2010 and 2019 each county in Southeastern Michigan experienced a decline in the percentage of married couples with children under the age of 18 in the house. In both 2010 and 2019 Livingston County had the highest percentage of married individuals with a child; in 2010 that percentage was 30 percent, and in 2019 that percentage was 24 percent. Wayne County had the lowest percentage of married individuals in 2010 and 2019 at 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Monroe County experienced the largest decline of individuals married with children; in 2010 25 percent of individuals were married with at least one child under the age of 18, and by 2019 that declined 15 percent.

Overall, the data shows that we as a society are moving away from the traditional idea of love, marriage and a baby. As mindsets have shifted, so have economic conditions. What is in store for the tradition of marriage and a family remains unknown post-pandemic. 

COVID’S Economic Impacts Continue in Michigan and Beyond

Twenty-twenty may be a wrap but the COVID-19 pandemic continues on and the economic impacts continue to be felt, nationally and locally. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, on Jan. 2, 2021 there were 497,127 confirmed COVID-19 cases; that is 8,983 new confirmed cases since Dec. 29, 2020 (the State did not release data over the New Year’s holiday). According to the five-day rolling average (shown in the chart below) there were 489,096 confirmed COVID cases in Michigan on Dec. 31, 2020. New case numbers continue to remain in the thousands, and while the vaccine is in its first phase of distribution, we still have a ways to go until the affects of this virus—physically, economically, socially and mentally—are no longer felt.

In November of 2020 the unemployment rates for the State of Michigan and for the City of Detroit increased after general declines between July and October. The State of Michigan reported an unemployment rate of 6.3 in November, a higher rate than what was reported in October, which was 5.7—the lowest rate reported since the pandemic began. While the November unemployment rate was still lower than what was reported between April and September of 2020, it was still an increase from October and likely a reflection of the stronger COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the State and growing caution from citizens as the confirmed case numbers began to rapidly increase.

For the City of Detroit, the unemployment rate for November of 2020 was 18.7, which is higher than the October rate of 15.4. While Detroit’s unemployment numbers remain much higher than what they were a year ago and above the State’s, the city is following the same trend as the State. Furthermore, the November unemployment data shows how the unemployment gap between the State and Detroit continues to grow wider as the case numbers increase.

A direct reflection of the unemployment data above is the number of small business closures. According to the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), 33 percent of small businesses in Metro-Detroit closed as of Dec. 30, 2020. While this lower than the May 12, 2020 local small business closure percentage of 54 it is still far above the 3 percent closure rate on April 1, 2020—less than a month after COVID hit Michigan.

The data on the percentage of small business closures is determined through the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker. This source uses credit card transaction data from 500,000 small businesses and estimates closures from the number of small businesses not having at least one transaction in the previous three days. The data covers industries such as healthcare services, leisure and hospitality, and retail and transportation.

Michigan’s economy continues to rely heavily on the auto industry and between February and March of 2020 auto sales for cars, trucks and light weight vehicles were cut in half. Since then, the number of auto sales has slowly, yet steadily, grown—but not to pre-pandemic levels. In November of 2020 auto sales for: light weight vehicles was 15.5 million, compared to 16.9 million the year prior; light truck sales was 11.8 million compared to 12.6 million in November of 2019; car sales was 3.8 million, compared to 4.4 million the year prior. All three types of vehicles have experienced a decline, with light weight vehicles experiencing the largest decline when comparing 2019 sales to present sales.

Below shows the consumption expenditures of goods in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, durable goods have an average useful life of at least 3 years (e.g. motor vehicles) while nondurable goods have an average useful life of less than 3 years (e.g. food) and services are commodities that cannot be stored or inventoried and are consumed at the time of purchase (e.g., dining out). The chart below shows how in March of 2020 consumption of nondurable goods increased while consumption of durable goods and services decreased. Following the initial panic of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumption expenditures of nondurable goods decreased in April, 2020 and have since somewhat leveled off. In November of 2020 $3167 billion in nondurable goods was consumed and in November, 2019 $3017 billion in nondurable goods was consumed.  Overall, there has been an increase in consumption expenditures of nondurable goods since last year. For durable goods, $1813 billion was consumed in November of 2020 and in November of 2019 $2032 billion was consumed; this shows an overall decrease.

Services have been the hardest hit in terms of expenditure consumption. In November of 2020 $8014 billion in services was consumed and in November of 2019 $8589 billion was consumed.

In addition to COVID impacts on employment rates and consumption of goods and services, it has also impacted the sale prices of homes. However, the pandemic seems to have had the opposite effect—home prices have continued to increase.

According to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the average price of single-family dwellings sold in Metro Detroit was $135,760 in September of 2020; this was $164 higher than the average family dwelling price in August. The September 2020 price was an increase of $8,290 from September of 2019.