Counting on Black History Month

With the 2010 census upon us, we at Data Driven Detroit have been working to educate “hard-to-count” populations about the importance of being counted. The NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund estimates that Wayne County suffered an undercount of about 30,000 people in the 2000 census, costing the area $9.3 million in federal funds.

I’ll be talking to you more about the census and its importance to our area. But one thing that you can do immediatlely to help reduce the undercount is include census messages in your Black History Month activities. I thought it might help to share some statistics about the black population nationally and here in Southeast Michigan:


  • As of July 1, 2008, the estimated population of black residents in the United States was 41.1 million, including those of more than one race. They made up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population. This figure represents an increase of more than a half-million residents from one year earlier.
  • Michigan’s black population, including those of more than one race, was 1,439,691 in 2008, accounting for 14.2 percent of the State’s total.  The 2008 figure represented a drop of 8,500 from a year earlier, and a smaller decrease of 2,000 persons from the 2000 Census.
  • 18 States, including Michigan, have a black population of at least 1 million as of July 1, 2008.  New York led all others with 3.5 million.
  • Cook County, Ill. led all others with 1.4 million black residents, as of July 1, 2008.  Wayne County led all other Michigan counties with a black population of 797,385.  Out-migration to other counties in Southeast Michigan and elsewhere resulted in a black population loss of 76,275 between 2000 and 2008.  Both Macomb and Oakland counties experienced increases in black population over the period.  Macomb’s population almost tripled (21,572 to 63,231), while Oakland County grew by 23 percent, adding 29,056 black residents.
  • 30% of the U.S. black population, and 28.4% of Southeast Michigan’s black population, was younger than 18 in 2008. In Southeast Michigan At the other end of the spectrum, 8 percent of the U.S. and 9% of Southeast Michigan’s black population was 65 and older.

Serving Our Nation

  • There were 2.3 million black military veterans in the United States in 2008. More military veterans are black than any other minority group. Southeast Michigan accounted for 51,027 of the total.


  • 83% of U.S. blacks 25 and older had at least a high school diploma in 2008. In Southeast Michigan, the share was 81.2%.
  • 20% of U.S. blacks 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2008. In Southeast Michigan, the share was 14.0%.
  • There were 2.5 million black college students in fall 2008. This was roughly double the corresponding number from 15 years earlier.


  • Blacks had the highest voter turnout rate of any other racial/ethnic group in Michigan in the 2008 election – 71.1%.
  • The number of black voters increased by about 2.1 million between the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, to 16.1 million. Their 65% turnout rate (Michigan was 71.1%) was up about 5 percentage points from 2004.
  • The 55% turnout rate in the 2008 presidential election for the 18- to 24-year-old citizen black population represented an 8 percent increase from 2004, and was the highest turnout rate in this age group.

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance

  • The 2008 median household income for black households in the U.S was $35,425, up 3.8 percent (in adjusted dollars) from 2005.
  • The 2008 median household income for black households in Southeast Michigan was $32,518, down 8.3 percent (in adjusted dollars) from 2005.
  • The 2008 median family income for black households in the U.S was $41,874, up 5.2 percent (in adjusted dollars) from 2005.
  • The 2008 median family income for black households in the U.S was $38,398, down 10.5 percent (in adjusted dollars) from 2005.
  •  The national poverty rate for blacks in 2008 was 24.1 percent.  In Southeast Michigan the rate was a slightly higher 28.1 percent.  The corresponding rates for black children less than 5 years of age were 39.1 and 39.4%, respectively.
  • The poverty rates for blacks with some college, but less than a bachelor’s degree, were 8.1 and 9.8%, respectively.
  • The poverty rates for college graduates were 3.8 and 4.4%, respectively.
  • 19.1% of blacks in the U.S lacked health insurance in 2008, not statistically different from 2007. (no figures are available below the national level.)

Homeownership – the American Dream

  • Nationally, the percentage of black households who owned their home in 2008 was 45.6 percent.  In  Southeast Michigan, that share rose to 48.5 percent.


  • 24.2 percent of blacks 16 and older in Southeast Michigan worked in management, professional and related occupations in 2008.  The national share was 27.4 percent. 
  • 27.7 percent of blacks 16 and older in  Southeast Michigan worked in service occupations in 2008.  The national share was 24.6 percent.

The Future

  • Despite the bad economy, blacks’ assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically during the past two years than at any time in the past quarter century, according to a comprehensive new nationwide Pew Research Center survey on race.
  • Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president appears to be thecatalyst for this sharp rise in optimism among African Americans. It may also be reflected in an upbeat set of black views on a range of other matters, including race relations, local community satisfaction and expectations for future black progress.