Profile: Workforce Trends

From 2000 until 2002, unemployment in the Detroit region and the US were nearly equal. While unemployment in the Detroit region continued to follow the direction of the national trend across a 20-year period, the 11 counties near Detroit experienced more unemployment than the country overall.

plot Detroit uemployment-rate 2019

In 2009, the region’s unemployment rate peaked at 14.6% — quite higher than US unemployment rate of 9.3%.  The unemployment rates of the Detroit region and the US converged in 2015. In 2019, the rate of unemployment fell to 4.2%, a level not seen since the early 2000s.

plot Detroit total-enrollment 2018

Universities in the Detroit region saw declining enrollment figures over the past decade. In 2010, 494,870 students were enrolled in post-secondary across the region. By 2018, this figure fell to 363,340 students. Enrollment in the Detroit region has fallen more rapidly than the national trend. In 2018, US enrollment declined by just 0.7%. Meanwhile, enrollment in Detroit region schools fell by 4.3%.

plot Detroit graduates-per-year 2018

The number of post-secondary graduates rose during the years following the Great Recession — climbing from 64,608 graduates in 2008 to 75,747 graduates in 2012. This uptrend in graduates was likely spurred on by people seeking an alternative to competing in a poor job market. As the economy continued its recovery, the number of annual graduates gradually declined. In 2018, just 69,065 students graduated from Detroit region colleges and universities.

Graduation rates in the Detroit region have declined more rapidly than the overall nation. In 2018, graduation rates in the Detroit region fell by 3.3%. Nationally, graduation rates grew by a modest 0.8%.