In Detroit, 100,000 People Still Unemployed

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The turnaround of the fortunes of Detroit has failed to benefit 99,229 people, which is the number of them out of work in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The situation is rarely, if ever, mentioned in the stories about the Motor City’s resurrection.

The civilian labor force in the Detroit metropolitan area was 2,069,104 in December, so the employment situation has improved sharply since the recession. However, the raw number of nearly 100,000 unemployed people only tells part of what is a grim story about the lingering problems in the city. A total of 39.3% of people in the city live below the poverty line.

Comments made recently by the Detroit Chamber of Commerce are a common way boosters have supported large improvements in the city’s fortunes:

Since 2006, approximately $12 billion has been invested in commercial, industrial and residential properties in the city of Detroit. Corporations, such as Quicken Loans and Blue Cross Blue Shield, have added nearly 12,000 jobs in downtown Detroit over the past few years. With entrepreneurs and young professionals capitalizing on low real estate prices and growing career opportunities; the city is on the rise.

When measured against the city’s employment situation “12,000 jobs over the past few years” means nothing, particularly when the period is so vague.

Among the other comments from the Detroit Chamber of Commerce:

Condo, loft and apartment housing in the Downtown and Midtown areas are essentially sold-out – reflecting the growing popularity of Detroit as a destination residential locale. 97% of downtown Detroit’s and 95% of Midtown’s rental apartments are occupied. Young professionals with bachelor’s degrees living downtown have increased by 59 percent since 2000.

It may be that the supply of apartments to attract these people is low, which would make the numbers of questionable value.

The turnaround in Detroit is often described in terms that are subjective. And the 100,000 unemployed people are kept out of the picture.