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City leaders are heralding a  recent  US  Census Bureau report indicating significant growth in Detroit resident ’s household income, accompanied by a modest decrease in the poverty rate.

Data released earlier this month show the economic conditions of Detroiters continues to improve with most significant gains occurring over the past two years. In  2017, the city’s median household income rose  8%  to  $30,344  from  $28,099  the year before.

That ’s compared to new national numbers released Wednesday that showed an approximately 2% increase in average household income in the  United  States.    When adjusted for inflation, Detroit ’s increase is still double the national average.

The previous year,    in    2016, Detroit saw a  7.5% increase in household income, compared to 3.2%  nationally.  Cumulatively since 2015, this means that the average Detroit household has seen an income increase of about $4,500 annually. In  2016, the citywide increase in household income was largely attributable to gains in the white and Hispanic communities.   However, in 2017 African American households in Detroit experienced the largest increase,  rising  12%  from  $26,759 to just under $30,000 ($29,937).

While lauding the improvements.  Mayor  Mike  Duggan  said  much  work  remains  to  be done.“We ’re very pleased at the increase in household incomes,” he said.  “It basically doubled the rate of the state and country. And the 12 percent  increase  in  African  American  household  income  is  a  number  we  haven’t  seen  since   they   started   keeping   the statistics.”

The report also showed a modest decrease in the city poverty rate which brought it down to the lowest rate in a decade.  Dropping for the second straight year, the rate now stands at 34.5%.    That ’s down 1.2%  from  2016,  which means that about 8,000 fewer Detroiters were living in poverty in  2017.  In  2016,  Detroit’s poverty rate dropped more sharply by 4.1% from the previous year.  The last time the poverty rate in Detroit was lower was in 2008 when it was 33.3%.

Nicole   Sherard-Freeman,   president   and  CEO  of  the  Detroit  Employment  Solutions  Corporation,  said  the  data  shows  that  the  economic  resurgence  happening   with   all   the   development   downtown  is  starting  to  spread  elsewhere throughout the city.“The only way for poverty to move down is for incomes to move up,” she said. “So, it tells us if the opportunities are available and reaching the residents, then the residents are taking advantage of it.”

Duggan and Freeman emphasized that because of the city ’s historically high poverty rate,  there was still much work to be done.  He said the city’s  Detroit  At Work program, which has trained nearly 3,000 Detroiters for in-demand jobs since January  2017  in fields like construction, healthcare,  IT,  retail and hospitality has played a major role in providing residents access to well-paying jobs.

Freeman agreed.  “What  I  know  is  through  Detroit  At  Work  is  that  we  trained 263 percent more people in 2017 and 2018 than in the year prior.”

“And three years ago the average wage was $10.66 an hour and now its $14.39 – which is approaching the Living Wage as demanded by most unions,” she said.  “That  in  no  way  means  our  work  is done, but we are trending in the right direction.”

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