Poverty, Unemployment Rates Higher for Young Adults in Detroit than City’s Overall Rates

In the City of Detroit the percentage of young adults (categorized as 16 to 34-year-olds in this post) living at or below the poverty level in 2015 was 42 percent, with the labor force participation rate for that same age group being 64 percent and the unemployment rate being 35 percent. Two out of three of these rates were above those for the City of Detroit overall. In 2015 the percent of all Detroit residents (including children) living below the poverty level was 40 percent, the labor force participation rate was 63 percent and the unemployment rate was 13.2 percent.

While the trend for these above mentioned rates for the young adult population was to be above the overall rates for the City, a deeper look at the rates showed they varied across Census Tracts in the City. For example, Census Tracts with the highest percentage of young adults living in poverty were along Grand River on the West Side and along Gratiot on the east side of the City. On the east side of the City, majority of the Census Tracts had between 50 and 90 percent of young adults living at or below the poverty level. Fortunately some of these same Census Tracts had among the lowest populations of young adults living there, with several having between 46 and 452 young adult residents residing in each Census Tract.

In the northeastern portion of the City, there were about a dozen Census Tracts with among the highest number of young adults living there, with numbers ranging between 667 and 1,742. These Census Tracts also had some of the highest labor force participation rates, as did a pocket in the western portion of the City of Detroit, along with several other pockets throughout the City. The tracts with the low labor force participation rates (29-48 percent) were frequently the same ones that had the highest percentage of young adults living at or below the poverty level; these Census Tracts are just east of Hamtramck. An individual is considered part of the labor force if they have a job or are actively seeking one. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of adults who are members of the labor force.

Two of these Census Tracts just east of Hamtramck also had among the highest unemployment rates for young adults, ranging between 59 and 89 percent. Overall in the City there were only 20 Census Tracts where between 59 and 89 percent of young adults were unemployed. Again, some of the tracts arrayed along Grand River on the west and Gratiot on the east had very high unemployment rates.

There are some tracts where high poverty, labor participation and unemployment rates overlap, but this is not the case for a majority of the Census tracts. At the same time the data tend to indicate a larger percentage of young adults are unemployed and, thus, living in poverty than the overall Detroit population. Clearly, getting more young adults employed must be a very high priority, and given that the national rate of unemployment is approaching 4 percent, there should be opportunities to connect these young adults to the labor market. Clearly it should be a priority to target job development and training programs to areas near Central High School along Grand River, as well as along Gratiot and in the Osborn and Demby areas.

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