Detroit officials are optimistic about the city’s declining unemployment rate but say residents need help to get information about workforce training and job opportunities.
Data from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics showed Detroit’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.4% last November, the lowest monthly rate since December 2000. The city’s unemployment rate is below the pre-pandemic level of 7.6% and has been on a somewhat steady decline since peaking at 39.4% in May 2020. However, data shows fewer residents have jobs now compared to recent years.
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Federal data showed 227,017 Detroiters were employed last November, which is 3,322 fewer when compared to the pre-pandemic employment total from February 2020. Detroit has 11,300 more residents with jobs since November 2021, but 7,832 fewer than in November 2019.
Mayor Mike Duggan said there are 8,547 jobs available in the city through Detroit At Work, his administration’s workforce training program. Detroit At Work offers skills training, resume building workshops, career counseling and other services to create a talent pipeline to local employers.
“This isn’t just for people who are unemployed,” Duggan said during a Thursday news conference at a career center on the city’s east side. “If you’re in a job that is not paying enough, your rent is going up … we’ve got training programs that will get you into higher paying jobs with benefits for the long run.”
More jobs are on the way, the mayor said. This includes 1,200 jobs at the new Amazon distribution center at the site of the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, 400 jobs at a new employment center that will be constructed at the former AMC headquarters and 400 jobs at a new Lear seating facility located at the former Cadillac Stamping Plant.
“Through most of my adult life, the unemployed were in the city and the jobs were in the suburbs,” Duggan said. “I watched jobs move to the suburbs for decades. Today, the jobs are being created in Detroit.”
There are nine Detroit at Work Career Centers across the city. Interested residents can call (313) 962-9675 to schedule an appointment. Those who register with Detroit At Work can receive job training opportunities and get connected with employers.
Duggan said he’s planning a community “jobs forum” broadcast on Jan. 30 to highlight various programs available. This includes things like:
- Project Clean Slate, which helps residents clear criminal convictions off their record for free
- Learn to Earn, which pays participants up to $200 per week to pursue a GED or high school diploma
- Skills For Life, which hires participants to work for the city’s General Services Department while pursuing education or training sessions meant to equip graduates with a full-time job that pays $17 to $25 per hour.
- JumpStart, a new program that helps people who have been out of work get back into the job market and provides them with $600 per month for six months to cover child care, transportation or rent costs. After six months, the stipend drops to $400 for another six months, and $200 for six additional months after that for a total of $7,200 over 18 months.
Council Member Latisha Johnson, who represents District 4 on Detroit’s far east side, said it’s encouraging to see so many programs available, but residents struggle to hear about them.
“One of the challenges that we have is getting the information to our residents who need it most,” Johnson said. “That’s why this (Jan. 30) event is extremely important. It’s an opportunity for everyone to listen, to understand what these programs are and what they do, and to share that information with our neighbors, with our family, who can benefit from it the most.”