An estimated 16.1% of residents in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn metro area live below the poverty line, a larger share than the national poverty rate of 14.7% and roughly similar to the state’s poverty rate of 15.8%. Detroit has the sixth highest poverty rate of any Michigan metro area.

A high school education can mean the difference between living above or below the poverty line. Nationwide, the 87.1% of Americans who have at least graduated high school are 1.9 times less likely to be in poverty than those who did not complete high school. In Detroit, adults who graduated from high school are also 1.9 times less likely to be in poverty. An estimated 89.3% of adults in Detroit have at least a high school diploma, the second lowest high school attainment rate in the state.

The share of metro area residents living in poverty may depend on the health of the local job market. As the national unemployment rate fell from 8.9% in 2011 to 5.3% in 2015, the number of U.S. jobs increased by 9.9 million. In Detroit, the 4.9% unemployment rate is roughly similar to the jobless rate nationwide.

High poverty often creates the conditions for a high violent crime rate. There were 498 violent crimes per 100,000 Detroit residents in 2015, higher than the national crime rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Living in poverty can have adverse effects on physical and mental health. With lower wages, those living in poverty are less likely to have access to healthy food, opportunities for physical activity, and quality medical care. In Detroit, there are 396 premature deaths per 100,000 residents annually, less than the national premature death rate of 474 per 100,000 Americans.

Poverty is often concentrated along racial lines. Nationwide, 25.4% of African Americans live in poverty, compared to 10.4% of white Americans. Poverty is even more divided along racial lines in Detroit, where 31.6% of African Americans and 10.4% of white residents live below the poverty line.

While poverty tends to be concentrated in certain neighborhoods and districts within a city, a metropolitan area with a high poverty rate tends to have less wealthy residents overall. The typical household in the Detroit metro area earns $53,628 annually, higher than the median household income for Michigan of $51,084, and lower than the median income for all U.S. households of $55,775 nationwide. Detroit has the fifth highest median household income of any Michigan metro area.

Rank Metro Area Poverty
10 Pine Bluff, AR 25.7%
9 Valdosta, GA 26.6%
8 Merced, CA 26.7%
7 Greenville, NC 26.8%
5 Athens-Clarke County, GA 27.1%
5 Las Cruces, NM 27.1%
4 Visalia-Porterville, CA 27.6%
3 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX 31.5%
2 Laredo, TX 31.8%
1 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX 32.4%