Skip to main content

Spirit of Detroit

Detroit's poverty rate falls slightly; Black household incomes up

New Census data shows small gains in city's fortunes

Detroit’s poverty rate dropped slightly while median incomes in Black households rose in 2017, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics released early Thursday morning.

Per the statistics, the city’s poverty rate stands at 34.5 percent, meaning that a significant amount of Detroit residents are living in poverty and the city is still among one of the poorest in the nation, but has fallen from a high of 42.3 percent in 2012. Compared to last year, the poverty rate dropped 1.2 percent from 2016, with an estimated 8,000 fewer Detroiters living in poverty. 

The U.S. Census Bureau began annual surveys in 2005. That year, the median household income for Black residents stood at $28,069. In 2017, it stands at $30,344, after six years of consecutive growth. The median income for Black households also hit a low point in 2012, standing at $23,600.

Detroit’s Black household median income falls short of nationwide trends. The average in 2016 for Black households clocked in at $39,040. But rising incomes in the city are attributed to more available jobs that have opened in recent years, city officials say.

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, health care, IT, retail and hospitality.  Today, more than 7,100 jobs and 131 training opportunities are accessible at