Every year in December, the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau publishes a wealth of economic, housing, race and educational attainment information. This information is useful for policymakers, public administrators, advocates and direct service providers as they work to meet the needs of their communities. But the data is also helpful for all residents to better understand the issues facing their area and our state as a whole.
The Michigan League for Public Policy has made it a tradition to publish fact sheets with some of this census information on the state, county, municipal, legislative and congressional district, and American Indian reservation levels. The new fact sheets are now up on our website in printable form for you to use for communicating with lawmakers, writing stories for the media, and planning or assessing service projects and programs. We would love to hear how you use the fact sheets!
Here at the League, the annual census data helps us analyze and inform our policy work, to see what’s working, what isn’t, and what still needs to be addressed. In particular, this data continues to underscore the fact that Michigan’s comeback story is not reaching everyone in the state and too many people are still struggling. Statewide, the poverty rate was 16.3% for 2017. The child poverty rate was 22.8%—nearly 1 in 4 Michigan kids were living in poverty last year. These residents aren’t feeling any “recovery.”
As our economy evolves, a college degree or training is becoming more essential to getting a good job and a reasonable wage. But more than 50% of Michigan residents 25 and older do not have a college degree. The gender wage gap also remains a significant problem. Last year, the median wage for women was $38,518 compared to $50,760 for men. That means women are making around 76 cents on the dollar compared to men, which is below the national average (80 cents). And you can see the adverse impact that is having right on the same fact sheet, which shows 44.3% of female single-parent families were in poverty last year.
These are some of the issues we’re working to draw attention to this week as part of the Fighting for Families Week of Action sponsored by our friends at the State Innovation Exchange (SiX), a strategy center and support network for state legislators from around the country who seek to strengthen our democracy, advocate for working families, defend civil rights and liberties, and protect the environment. Among the activities this week will be a telephone town hall discussion TONIGHT in which you can ask state legislators and advocates (including yours truly) about such topics as good jobs, earned sick and family leave, overtime rules, predictable scheduling and wage theft.
The census data information and the League’s fact sheets will be useful for our discussion tonight, and I hope you can join us. But also keep these fact sheets in mind to inform your own work and advocacy on behalf of better policies to serve all Michigan residents.
— Peter Ruark