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Jobs and the Challenges to Michigan’s Middle Class

Bridge Magazine Senior Writer Ron French and Bridge Magazine Computer-Assisted Reporting Specialist Mike Wilkinson discuss the challenges facing the middle class on Detroit Today. Along with host Sandra Svoboda they also look at where the city’s existing jobs are, how the city’s middle class compares to the past, and listen to callers give their own take on what it’s like to be an employer in the city. Read about it below:

  • The Innovation District: The collection of institutions and businesses that make up the “Innovation District” has a lot of people hopeful. However Wilkinson explains that the focus on the midtown and downtown area may have increased job growth but the population is just too concentrated. Sandra notes his article exploring the numbers shows that there’s 200 jobs to 1000 people and he adds there are also transportation issues that further hurt access to jobs in the city.    
  • The Middle Class Keeps Falling: French says the middle class is still hurting. He says since it peaked in 1969 the median household income has been falling and now it has dropped by about 15 thousand dollars. He says it’s a big difference now because that’s like a family being able to afford a college education for their kids and in today’s job market the need for higher education is apparent if someone wants to earn more than the median.
  • Finding Employees in the City: One caller from the Del Ray area says his company does important environmental work and has many jobs available for both skilled and entry level workers, but it’s hard for them to recruit young people and those who don’t have reliable access to transportation. He wishes the city could do more to help connect prospective employees with the companies looking for workers.
  • Transportation Really is the Issue: Another caller expressed that she started her business outside of the downtown loop because she wanted to spread the job growth in the city. She believes the lack of reliable transit in the city is a major issue. She feels her employees should be able to work without having to own a car and wants the city to make public transit more available and reliable.

Click on the audio link above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: WDET

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