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Report: Michigan declined the most nationwide on Human Development Index

Peter Martorano

When it comes to measuring economies, gross domestic product has been the big player for the last century.

But a growing number of economists and political scientists argue that GDP is an incomplete assessment of development. The central complaint: GDP misses the human side of things.

So researchers at the Social Science Research Council in Brooklyn looked at the Human Development Index, a metric developed in the 1990s, and applied it to the U.S. Looking at the health, education, and earnings of people across the country, the researchers were able to get a better understanding of how Americans are doing.


The result? The country is making progress in some areas and falling behind in others. No surprise.


But across the board, Michigan’s not doing well.

According to SSRC’s report, of all the states, Michigan “saw the greatest decline in human development over the past decade.”

"Typical earnings in Michigan declined by $7,000 per person -- the largest drop, by far, of any state."


From the report:


“Every state but one ended the decade with a higher score than it had in 2000. Michigan is the exception.”


Researchers attributed the so-called “decade of decline” in Michigan in part to the fall in manufacturing jobs in the Rust Belt.

And while the report said that health and education has been slowly improving in the Mitten, incomes have not.


“Typical earnings in Michigan declined by $7,000 per person—the largest drop, by far, of any state.”


Credit Social Science Research Council
Social Science Research Council
The change in median personal earnings from 2000 to 2005. Michigan is among states with drops in earnings.

And while education outcomes — the number of folks with diplomas and degrees — has marginally increased in Michigan, the report contends that Michigan stalled on gearing students up in growing STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“North Carolina, with the same size population and even more drastic losses in the proportion of jobs in manufacturing over the decade, spent three times more per person on higher education than Michigan in 2010. Further, heeding the warning signs about manufacturing’s decline, North Carolina’s state institutions went into overdrive to help residents seize opportunities in the new economy.”

Detroit also topped the list of bottom-ranking metro areas — cities whose residents saw the greatest drops in earnings between 2008 and 2010.

But when analyzing metro areas by race, a surprising statistic came up: Detroit was the best city "in terms of well-being for Asian Americans."

"But Detroit ranks near the bottom for whites and African Americans," the report added.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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