Recent Detroit Economic Indicators

by Eric Stokan 17. May 2010 10:11

The Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit recently pulled together some of the key economic indicators that are important to Detroit.  Our main focus was on employment, housing, and education.  We detail each of these indicators below. 

Employment Data

The unemployment rate for Detroit as of March 2010 was 25.3% while it was 10.2% in the US and 14.9% in Michigan (not seasonally adjusted).  While the underemployment rate was likely considerably higher, the data is hard or impossible to find at the sub-state level. The chart below was constructed using Michigan Labor Market Information data for the last twenty years.  July 2009 represented the peak for the unemployment rate in Detroit within the last two decades, at 27.6%.  It has continuously dropped through December (24.5%) and has briefly leveled off between 24.8% and 25.3%. 

While it seems that the unemployment rate has dropped briefly in the first three months of this year, taking into account the twenty year average for those months indicate another story.  This second graph takes the ratio of unemployment in each month over the last twenty years as a ratio of the average by month.  Therefore, one can see the deviations by month compared to the average for that month over the 20 year period (1990-2010).


The months where the deviations above normal were the highest were in May 2009 and June 2009. The unemployment rate for these months was double the 20 year average for each month respectively.    

The last three months ratios are: 

January, 2010: 1.755 times above average

February, 2010: 1.825 times above average

March, 2010: 1.844 times above average


Foreclosure Data


Southeast Michigan: 1 in 29 households were foreclosed in December 2010

Wayne County: 1 in 20 households were foreclosed in December 2010

Detroit City: 1 in 13 households were foreclosed in December 2010

RealtyTrac Data

United States: 1 in 136 households were foreclosed in 3rd quarter 2009

Michigan: 1 in 122 household were foreclosed in 3rd quarter 2009

Vacancy Data

See US Postal Service maps below that show Census tract level data for change in the vacancy rate between 2005 and 2010 for the Metro-Detroit and city of Detroit data.  So, the numbers presented for each Census tract represent the increase or decrease in total vacant (including residential, business, and other) properties.


Education Data

A larger percentage of the Detroit population has been attaining a high school diploma since 2002.  However, Detroit still lags Wayne County and Wayne County lags Michigan in terms of high school completion.  In 2008, while 11.9% of the state’s population 25 and older did not have a high school diploma, 23.9% of Detroit’s population was without one.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 4.3% of Detroit’s population had a graduate or professional degree in 2008 which compares to a state average of 9.4% and a national average of 10.2%.  This data is reflected in the two tables shown below.

                                                 Source: American Community Survey (2002-2008)

                                   Source: American Community Survey (2002-2008)

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About the Authors

We are the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  We have several authors who contribute directly and indirectly to this blog.

Lyke Thompson, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Urban Studies and Professor in Wayne State University's Political Science Department, has specialized his research on the urban political and economic environment.  A primary focus has been centered on municipal economic development, urban policy, and the determinants of economic growth.

Eric Stokan, MA.

Research assistant at the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  Mr. Stokan serves as the lead researcher of the Unit, analyzing economic data using various statistical techniques.  Mr. Stokan is interested in questions concerning municipal economic growth and industry mix as well as determinants of local economic incentive adoption.

Mary Hennessey

Research technician at the Center for Urban Studies Economic Development Unit.  Ms. Hennessey researches the effectiveness of local economic development incentives.  Specifically, she has conducted a thorough investigation of brownfields and is currently working on public transit.