January 23, 2019

N. Michigan households face more financial hardship than residents elsewhere

U-M releases 2017 state poverty and well-being data

Posted

NORTHERN MICHIGAN — While Michigan saw a falling poverty rate statewide in 2017, the University of Michigan has found that Northern Michigan families tend to struggle more financially than families in other areas of the state.

The information comes from the recently released poverty and well-being map from the University of Michigan. It’s built using public information from the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United Way and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The information presented reflects 2017 income and well-being statistics. In 2017, to be considered beneath the poverty line, a family of four would have to have a yearly income lower than $24,600.

Overall, the state saw an increase in median income of slightly more than $2,800. The overall poverty rate dropped 1.1 percent, and the child poverty rate dropped 1.6 percent. The difference between the two is that child poverty rates only take into account families that have at least one minor living in their household. The overall poverty rate takes all people into account regardless of parenthood.

While the majority of the information presented at the state level shows a decrease in issues regarding poverty, there are mixed results when looking solely at Northern Michigan. Roscommon County saw the largest increase across the state in its child poverty rate, with more than 37 percent of children living below the poverty line. Oscoda County is still listed as having one of the highest child poverty rates in the state.

Luke Shaefer, director of poverty solutions at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, said while at a glance the data presented shows improvements at the state level, there is more to the story.

“The map shows a picture of gains statewide, but we know that significant challenges remain," Shaefer told the University of Michigan. “Looking across the county data we know that there are still a significant number of Michiganders who are experiencing disadvantage or scarcity."

In comparison to the rest of the state, Northern Michigan has a slightly higher poverty rate at 14.6 percent, compared to the overall rate of 14 percent. The difference between the child poverty rates is larger, with the local rate at nearly 23 percent compared to the state average of 20.5.

The average income for Northern Michigan is significantly lower than the state average. Average income at the state level is roughly $50,000, while in Northern Michigan it is $5,000 less at $45,000.

When looking at specific counties in our area compared to the rest of the state, the discrepancies grow even larger.

In Oscoda County the average income is roughly $6,000 less than the Northern Michigan average at nearly $39,000. That means the average person in Oscoda county makes $11,000 less than the average person elsewhere in the state. The county has a 4 percent higher overall poverty level, and the child poverty rate is nearly 9 percent higher at 29.4 percent. The county also has a higher percentage of people taking advantage of SNAP benefits. The state average is roughly 14 percent, while Oscoda County has a rate of slightly more than 18 percent.

In Ogemaw County the average income is even lower than its neighbors to the north at roughly $7,000 less than the Northern Michigan average at nearly $38,000. That means the average person in Ogemaw County makes $12,000 less than the average person elsewhere in the state. The county has a 2.2 percent higher overall poverty level, and the child poverty level is nearly 6 percent higher at 26 percent. The county also has a significantly higher percentage of people taking advantage of SNAP benefits, at a rate of nearly 21 percent.

In Arenac County the average income is slightly higher than Ogemaw and Oscoda, but it is still lower than the Northern Michigan average. The average person in Arenac makes roughly $4,000 less than the Northern Michigan average at about $41,000. That means the average person in Arenac County makes $9,000 less than the average person elsewhere in the state. The county has a 1.7 percent higher overall poverty level, and its child poverty level is nearly identical to Ogemaw county, putting it roughly 6 percent higher at 26 percent. The county also has a higher percentage of people taking advantage of SNAP benefits, at a rate of slightly more than 19 percent.

An interesting new statistic included in the data is the percentage of people who are working, but still unable to afford basic necessities like housing, food, child care, health care and/or transportation. These households are dubbed Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, also known as ALICE. The University of Michigan states this is a statistic that has been growing in recent years.

Twenty-eight percent of households in Oscoda County are considered to be a part of that statistic. That is slightly more than the state average of roughly 26 percent. Twenty-seven percent of Ogemaw County residents fall into this category, and 28 percent of Arenac County residents do as well.

When looking at life expectancy, on average, Northern Michigan is in line with the rest of the state at 77 years old for men, and 81 years old for women. However, when looking at individual counties in our area the rate decreases slightly. Oscoda residents are expected to see lower life expectancy rates at 75 for men and 80 for women. Ogemaw and Arenac residents have identical life expectancy rates of 74 years for men and 80 for women.

When comparing Michigan to the rest of the nation, Michigan has a higher poverty rate. The national poverty rate is currently sitting at 12.3 percent, and the Michigan rate is 1.7 percent higher, at 14 percent. Although the state still has a higher poverty level than the national average, it did better in its ranking in comparison to the other 50 states, moving down from the 36th highest poverty ranking to the 35th.

To see more information from the study or to view a map that shows details from each county, visit poverty.umich.edu and click on “Data Tools.”

Comments

Please review our community guidelines before posting

Please keep comments on topic and appropriate for all ages. Remember that people of all ages read our website. Those that are not appropriate will be removed. Please read our full community guidelines before posting.

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment

Copyright © 2019, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.