One of the surest signs Detroit’s recovery just may be for real is the fact that an increasing number of Detroiters are finding work.
Once upon a time known as the city where just about any able-bodied human being could find a good-paying job at any one of the city’s thriving manufacturing plants, even without a high school diploma, Detroit’s more recent history has been plagued for decades by population decline, accompanied by neighborhood decline. It has been a slow and painful descent for what used to be one of America’s greatest cities.
But things do appear to be turning a corner.
Numbers released last week by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Detroit’s labor force grew by over 1,600 residents and more than 1,000 Detroiters found employment in the last month, joining nearly 20,000 more Detroiters who are now employed since 2014.
Upon release of the report, 225,758 Detroiters were employed, up 1,045 since August and an increase of 19,190 since January 2014 when Mayor Mike Duggan took office. This is the highest level of employment in the last seven years.
Although Detroit most likely will never reclaim the heavyweight title it once held as the engine of America, it nevertheless is a good indication that the city is headed in the right direction.
“The fact that more Detroiters are entering the workforce is a clear indication that they see more opportunity and more pathways to access jobs, such as our Detroit at Work training programs,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of Workforce Development. “These new numbers are very encouraging, but we know we still have a long way to go toward making sure that every Detroiter who wants to work has the opportunity.”
When Duggan took office in January 2014, the city’s unemployment rate was 17.6%. Since that time, there are nearly 20,000 more employed Detroiters. In 2017 alone, 6,811 Detroiters gained employment, one of the largestm year-over-year gains in over a decade.
The Duggan administration has taken several steps to provide greater access to jobs, as well as job training and placement, including:
Creating the Detroit At Work program, which connects Detroit residents training opportunities for in-demand jobs in fields like construction, health care and IT.
Investing $10 million in the Randolph Career Technical Center, where skilled and construction trades are taught to more than 300 Detroit students during the day and 300 adults at night.
Working with DPS and Quicken Loans to digitize millions of high school transcripts to make them easily accessible to DPS graduates who require them to obtain employment.
Launching a prison-based training program that prepares inmates for jobs in environmental remediation, culinary arts, equipment operation and more.
The City of Detroit also announced last month that it is offering $1 million in grants designed to prepare those most in need for the new workforce. The initiative is a partnership between the city and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.
Grants are available to community organizations offering services like literacy education, vocational training and support services to Detroit residents enrolled in SNAP, a federal food assistance program.