Is Oakland County One of the Wealthiest in America?

What do the data say about Oakland County’s wealth and income?

WDET’s Sandra Svoboda talks with WDET’s Digital Editor and Multimedia Producer Nina Ignaczak, Data Driven Detroit Executive Director Erica Raleigh and Oakland County Director of Economic and Community Affairs Irene Spanos, about the measures we use to describe Oakland County’s wealth and income.  Callers chimed in about what Oakland County’s wealth status means for businesses and residents. 

  • Detroit by the numbers:  WDET launches its Detroit by the Numbers website today, featuring maps, charts, and additional data on wealth in Oakland County and poverty in Detroit.   
  • Question the data:  Raleigh and callers point out that different measures of wealth indicate different things about Oakland county.  Raleigh says that while some measures do not rank the county identically, that does not mean that one is preferable to the other, and more rounded balanced data is ideal.   A caller points out that average income measures do not necessarily reflect the average experience or the role of income inequality. 
  • Diversity:  Sandra asks Spanos about the role of diverse housing values and incomes in Oakland County.  Spanos says that she sees a wide range of housing values as a strength, because it means there is a place for everyone in Oakland County.  She says that her office strives to help create high-paying, knowledge-driven jobs for everyone in Oakland County, and that this also creates service and entry level jobs. 
  • Employment and growth: Spanos says that Oakland County has approximately 4% unemployment, which many economists consider full employment.  She says that Oakland County focuses on attracting business and foreign investment to the county and to southeast Michigan, and a big part of this is selling Michigan as a place where successful people choose to live. 
  • Why is a wealthy reputation important?:  Spanos says that a reputation for wealth is important because it attracts businesses and allows Oakland county to continue to provide employment to its residents.  A caller who lives in Huntington Woods says that he does not feel that people in his community judge each together by their wealth, but he values the good schools and public services.  He says that his community is a “great place to “take pride in”. 

Click the audio link above to hear the full conversation, and check out the data on the Detroit By The Numbers website.