Press Release

Detroit Future City Report Identifies Jobs, Industries to Grow Detroit’s Middle Class

February 11, 2023

Call to action for these jobs to be the focus of Detroit’s economic development strategy

DETROIT – Detroit Future City (DFC) released, today, “Growth Occupations: Opportunities for more equitable participation in Detroit’s Growing Economy,” which identifies the top growth occupations in Metro Detroit, illustrates the inequitable access to this set of fast-growing well-paying jobs, and offers solutions to better connect Detroit’s workers to the region’s growing occupations.

Growth Occupations are jobs that are growing at the same or higher rate than the region as a whole, have increased wages between 2014-19, pay at least a middle-class wage ($25 per hour/$52,000 per year) and employ at least 300 people in the region. According to DFC’s new report, there are 107 growth occupations in the region, accounting for one out of four jobs in Metro Detroit.

While these jobs are strong in the region, data in “Growth Occupations” shows that access to well-paying growth occupations is inequitable and that race and place play a role in shaping access to these jobs. Sixteen percent of Black workers in the region are in a growth occupation compared to 26% of white workers. Additionally, Black workers in Metro Detroit, at every level of educational attainment, are less likely to hold a growth occupation compared to white workers. And, Black and Latino workers who live in the city of Detroit are less likely to be employed in a growth occupation compared to their counterparts in the region. This is perpetuating Detroit’s and the region’s economic, racial divide.

“The city of Detroit and the region’s economies are improving, but over the past decade low wage jobs have been the fastest growing. This leaves little opportunity for residents who are Black and Latino to access a middle-class wage. Detroiters cannot continue to serve as the low-wage talent pool for our region,” said Anika Goss, DFC president and CEO. “In order to grow the middle class and create equitable and sustainable economic systems for all Detroiters, we need to create an economic development strategy that is laser focused on attracting and retaining these growth occupations that pay middle-class wages. We also need to remove barriers to these jobs for Black and Latino workers.”

In late 2022, DFC announced its new 2030 strategic vision for the organization with goals to grow Detroit’s middle class and improve the quality of life in Detroit neighborhoods. The plan stemmed from DFC’s portfolio of research including the “Growing Detroit’s African American Middle Class” and “The State of Economic Equity in Detroit” reports that noted the city’s median household income of $36,000 remains just over half that of the region, white workers are paid nearly 1.4 times higher than Black and Latino workers, and that the number of middle-class neighborhoods in Detroit has decreased from 22 to 11 in the last 10 years.

“Growth Occupations” builds upon the findings from “The State of Economic in the Detroit” report to further investigate pathways for Detroiters to achieve middle class and participate in the region’s growing economy.

DFC identified that about two-thirds of Metro Detroit’s total growth occupations jobs are concentrated within one of three major fields: management, business, and finance; healthcare; and computer, engineering, and science (STEM). The 10 largest growth occupations account for 43% of growth occupation employment and most pay more than $35 per hour or $73,000 per year.

In Metro Detroit, three out of every four growth occupation jobs are within one of the seven industry sectors listed below. 

-Healthcare and social assistance (17%) 

-Manufacturing (16%) 

-Professional, scientific and technological services (10%) 

-Finance and insurance (10%) 

-Construction (10%) 

-Educational service (6%) 

-Public administration (5%) 


“Strong regional economies capitalize on all of the talent at their disposal to power inclusive growth,” said Alan Berube, interim vice president and director of Brookings Metro. “Only by broadening access to the region’s growing jobs and sectors can Detroit secure a prosperous future for all its residents.”

Race and place interact in shaping access to growth occupations. Only 13% of Black and Latino workers who live in Detroit are employed in growth occupations, far below the regional average of 24% and below their Black and Latino/Hispanic counterparts in the region.

Additionally, there are substantial disparities in access to growth occupations based on a worker’s educational attainment. Thirty-six percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree are employed in a growth occupation, which is twice as high compared to someone with only some college. Someone with a bachelor’s degree is four times as likely to work in a growth occupation compared to someone without a high school diploma, with only 9% of people without a high school diploma in growth occupations.

DFC proposes eight strategies in three key focus areas to create more equitable access to the region’s growth occupations. The recommendations are centered around business attraction strategies to attract growth occupations the city, increasing awareness of and training for these jobs among youth and adult workers, ensuring access to these jobs through wrap-around services such as childcare, transportation and mental health, and evaluating hiring practices.

“This report should serve as a guide for cross-sector leaders in economic development, education, health, and human services to work together to create opportunities for Detroiters to access resources and training for these jobs, and then have a pipeline of solid jobs that pay middle class wages as the outcome,” said Ashley Williams Clark, DFC vice president and director of the Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research.

The “Growth Occupations” report was informed by an advisory committee that included representatives from the State of Michigan and City of Detroit economic development departments, and business, workforce, education, philanthropy organizations. The report is funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

DFC will be hosting a webinar on March 8, noon – 1:30 p.m., to offer further insights and discussion about “Growth Occupations” and answer community questions. Panelists for the webinar include Bridgette Gray, Chief Customer Officer of Opportunity@Work; Kysha Frazier CEO of Corporation for Skilled Workforce; and, Joshua Sirefman, CEO of Ford Michigan Central, and Quentin Messer, CEO of Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

To view the “Growth Occupations,” and register for the webinar, visit

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