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44 percent of Metro Detroit jobs pay middle class wages

Important new metro Detroit educational attainment report from the Detroit Regional Chamber entitled 2022 State of Talent. Worth checking out. The report portrays a region that continues to be a laggard in post-secondary attainment. And the negative impact that has on household well being and the region’s overall prosperity. The Chamber writes:

The data in this report illustrates a harsh reality: The long-term COVID-19 impact on education threatens an already leaky talent pipeline where large numbers of students do not enroll in post-secondary education while far too many of those that do, fail to graduate or earn a credential after six years. If trends accelerated or created by the pandemic continue, desired attainment and equity outcomes are at risk and will create increased workforce challenges across all industries.

Now is the time for increased collaboration across all sectors – education, business, government, philanthropy, and community organizations. As more is learned about the pandemic’s long-term impact, doubling down on the necessary steps to achieve the goal of 60% post-secondary attainment and reducing the racial equity gap by half by 2030 has never been more urgent.

Included in the report is an update of our Michigan labor market realities analysis. Both that analysis and the update for metro Detroit were done by Don Grimes, research area specialist lead at the University of Michigan’s Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.

Don’s analysis for this report is designed to identify metro Detroit jobs in 2020 that paid enough for a household of three to be middle class by education attainment. Where $50,802 is the threshold for a lower middle class household of three and $76,204 is the threshold for an upper class household of three.

Occupations in the Detroit Metropolitan Area are classified into one of nine educational/training requirement categories. These categories are based upon the Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational worker characteristics classification. In addition to categories based on formal educational requirements, occupations that require work experience are classified as promotion jobs. A good example of these types of occupations are first line supervisors, most managerial occupations, and most medical doctors. 15 occupations are identified as requiring apprenticeship training, most are construction-related occupations.

The table at the bottom of this post contains the details.

The main takeaways are:

  • Only 44 percent of 2020 metro Detroit jobs paid enough to support a family of three at a middle-class income. Most jobs in the Detroit area don’t pay enough to support a family of three at a middle-class income.
  • Around 30 percent of metro Detroit jobs require a bachelor’s degree or more. 57 percent of metro Detroit jobs that pay more than the minimum necessary to support a family of three at a middle-class income require a bachelor’s degree or more.
  • 71 percent of metro Detroit jobs that pay $76,204 (the upper middle class threshold) or more require a bachelor’s degree or more.
  • Over 80 percent of the jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or more pay more than the minimum necessary to support a family of three at a middle-class income.
  • Over one-half of the jobs that require apprenticeship training, an associate degree, or simply a promotion pay more than the minimum necessary to support a family of three at a middle-class income. 61 percent of jobs in this category are in occupations that require a promotion.
  • A little more than one-quarter of jobs in occupations requiring a high school degree or a non-degree certificate pay more than the minimum necessary to support a family of three at a middle-class income.
  • Almost 20 percent of all jobs in Metro Detroit don’t have any educational requirement. Only eight percent of these jobs pay more than the minimum necessary to support a family of three at a middle-class income.
Source: Donald Grimes, University of Michigan. BLS OES data and Educational Attainment. Adjusted for local Cost of Living using BEA price parity Indices
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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

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