In Southeastern Michigan, the city with the highest median income difference between the white and black population is Genoa, which is located in Livingston County. In Genoa, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for a white household is about $81,000 and for a black household it is about $21,000. Grosse Pointe had the second highest median income gap between the two racial groups at $47,000, with the white household median income being $74,000 and the black household median income being $27,000. This, and the comparison for other communities in Southeastern Michigan, are shown in the first map below. Overall, in Southeastern Michigan there were 62 communities where white households out earned black households. Furthermore, there were 30 communities where black households out earned white households. Utica had the largest median income gap for this. In Utica, the median income gap between black and white households was about $66,000; the median income for black households was $119,000 and for white households it was $52,000. The range in which black households out earned white households in Southeastern Michigan was between $53 and $66,000. In Detroit, the median income gap between black and white households was $1,111, with black households earning more.
In looking more closely at the white median household incomes versus the black median household incomes the data shows that the range of median household incomes for the white population is between about $23,000 and $183,000. Lake Angellus in Oakland County had the highest median income for the white households in the region and Ecorse in Wayne County had the lowest at about $23,000. In Detroit, the median white household income was about $33,000. For the black community, the city with the highest household median income in Southeastern Michigan was Brighton in Livingston County. In Brighton the median household income for the black community was about $138,000 (for the white population it was $105,000). Genoa, which is also in Livingston County, also had the community with the lowest median black household income at $21,000.
These three maps highlight the income disparity in Southeastern Michigan at the racial level. As shown in the first map, there is a far greater disparity where the white households are out earning the black households. On average, the white population out earns the black population by 20 percent in the United States and that inequality has widen between 1979 and 2015, according to the Economic Policy Institute. With 62 communities where white households out earn black households by an average of up to $60,000 we must ask the question “why?” Historical, political, institutional and social contexts all a play a role in the wage gaps that exist racially and beyond. The first map above also shows that the greater disparity locally is occurring in the outer-ring suburbs, where there are lower black population numbers and higher wealth above the white population. Much must happen to close this gap including local and national policy reforms for minimum wage, a dedication from employers to truly evaluate and overhaul their hiring practices and we, as a society, continuing to speak up and take action to ensure the gap is closed.