Press Release

Detroit Future City Releases First Update to ‘State of Economic Equity in Detroit’ since its 2021 Launch

November 16, 2023

Detroit Future City (DFC), the think-and-do tank focused on advancing economic equity and growing the Black middle class in Detroit, released the first update to its web-based Economic Equity Dashboard, since its launch in 2021, which coincided with the release of the ‘State of Economic Equity in Detroit’ report.  This also marks the first update since the pandemic, providing insight into the impact of COVID-19 on key equity issues. 


The Economic Equity Dashboard identifies 22 indicators across several focus areas – income and wealth building, access to quality employment, business and entrepreneurship, education, health, and neighborhood and housing in addition to including data on the regional economic context. The indicators illustrate the inequities that exist across the city and broadly within metro Detroit by race/ethnicity as well as by geography. The update is an overview of how these indicators evolved or remained unchanged from 2019 to 2021 and highlights the pandemic’s impact on key equity issues. 


Broadly, the updated indicators show the following:

          -There was improvement in capital access for small businesses, vacancy rates, the homeownership rate and cost burden by income. 

          -Median household income and average home values remained steady, hampering upward mobility into the middle class. 

          -Job growth, the labor market, life expectancy and educational competency weakened in the city, highlighting persistent and growing inequities that show the hard-hitting impact of the pandemic, particularly for Black Detroiters.  


“We launched the Dashboard two years ago to provide stakeholders with a community informed and research-based tool that could be used as the barometer to address economic barriers for Detroiters,” said Anika Goss, DFC CEO. “While there have been improvements, the majority of the indicators show that systemic inequities that persist were only exacerbated by the pandemic.  We need to counteract the disproportionate impact on Black Detroiters, with proportionally impactful investments in addressing these deep economic and racial disparities.” 


 We now also see where the community needs to double down on strategies to improve jobs, education and health outcomes across the region, and especially for Black Detroiters, who continue to be disproportionally impacted.” 


Key data findings in the 2023 Economic Indicator Dashboard update include the following: 

          -Regional Economy 

                    -Compared to the top 50 regions, Metro Detroit ranks 26th for jobs per 100 working-age residents. 

          -Income and Wealth Building 

                    -Only 26% of households are considered middle-class in the city as of 2021, a drop from 27% in 2019, translating to a loss of 7,090 middle-class households. 

                    -Average home values in Detroit remained statistically unchanged but increased by nearly $11,000 in the region between 2019 and 2021, when adjusted for inflation. 

          -Access to Quality Employment 

                    -In the city, Black Detroiters had an unemployment rate that was 1.8 times that of the white population in 2021. 

                    -Disparities in education have exacerbated employment gaps – Jobs held by someone with a bachelor’s degree or higher were the fastest growing segment since 2019, growing by 17% and are 41% of the city’s jobs. 

          -Business and Entrepreneurship 

                    -The city has seen a 101% growth rate in the amount of small business capital available since 2019. 


                    -The percentage of third graders reading at grade level in 2022 is 12% in Detroit vs. 42% for the state of Michigan. 

                    -In 2021only 16% of Black and 10% of Latino/Hispanic residents have a bachelor’s degree compared to 35% for white residents. 


                    -On the heels of COVID-19, Detroit’s life expectancy faced a historic setback, underscoring persistent disparities by race/ethnicity. 

                    -As of 2020, infant mortality in Detroit stands at 14.6 deaths per 1000 births, an increase of 33% from 2019. 

          -Neighborhoods and Housing 

                    -Vacancy in the city continues to decline but remains significantly higher than the region. 

                    -Across the city, the low incomes of residents continue to drive affordability issues – Consistent with 2019, in 2021 too, the housing cost burden for both homeowners and renters decreases drastically once households earn $50,000 or more. 


DFC’s Center for Equity, Engagement, and Research is funded by The Kresge Foundation, Hudson-Webber Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase & Co. 


Click here to view the full Economic Equity Dashboard and 2021 “State of Economic Equity in Detroit” report.  


Important data caveats to note: 

1. Data updates are not available for indicators ‘Entrepreneurship rates per capita’ and ‘Average business size’, pending the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 results for the American Business Survey.

2. Comparisons should not be made between 2019 and 2021 estimates that reference the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-year releases since the two estimates include 3 years of overlapping coverage.

3. The U.S Census Bureau’s American Community Survey provides estimates with margins of error at the 90% confidence interval. In other words, the Census Bureau is 90% confident that the real value of a data point falls within a certain range, or margin of error.  Sometimes, margins of errors can overlap, so when doing comparisons across time or groups, it’s important to confirm that two data estimates are actually different from one another. Where possible, DFC confirmed estimates were statistically different and noted where they are not. 


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Detroit Strategic Framework
Economic Equity Dashboard