In this post I want to explore how many working Michiganders are not working full time year round and/or are in lower wage occupations. The data come from the American Community Survey for 2014.
In 2014 4,448,000 Michiganders worked. Of those 2,914,000 worked full time year round. So 34 percent (1,534,000) of Michiganders who worked in 2014 did not do so full time and/or year round.
The median wage for all full time year round Michigan workers in 2014 was $43,685. A total of 310,000 full time year round workers worked in occupations with a median wage between $20,590 (food preparation and serving) and $26,222 (healthcare support). The occupational groups and number of full time year round workers:
- Healthcare support occupations: 68,000
- Food preparation and serving occupations: 83,000
- Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations: 79,000
- Personal care occupations: 66,000
- Farming, fishing and forestry occupations: 14,000
There are another 801,000 Michiganders who worked full time year round in occupations with a median wage between $31,665 (material moving) and $36,310 (production). The occupational groups and number of full time year round workers:
- Office and administrative support occupations: 364,000
- Production occupations: 337,090
- Material moving occupations: 100,000
That adds up to 2,645,000 (59 percent) of those who worked in Michigan in 2014 who either did not work full time year round or worked in occupations with median wages of around $36,000 or less.
This reality is why just focusing on employment (or even worse the unemployment rate) is not a good measure of economic well being. Governor Snyder got it right when he set the goal as more and better jobs. What we should be focused on is employment earnings. Both how many Michiganders are working and how much they earn in wages and benefits.
On that measure Michigan is not doing so well. Ranking 35th in employment earnings per capita in a strong national economy with a booming auto industry. This challenge is structural not cyclical. Its one of the prime economic challenges Michigan needs to deal with going forward. Too many workers not working full time and of those who do too few working in good paying jobs/occupations. That is a recipe for a high proportion of Michigan households unable to afford basic necessities let alone save for retirement and their kids’ education.