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Poverty Solutions research assistants support groups advancing Detroit financial well-being projects

By Lauren Slagter

DETROIT – Getting money into the savings accounts of some Detroiters is more challenging than one might think. Before people can think about long-term financial planning, they need their immediate needs met. And those opening bank accounts for the first time may face hurdles gathering the necessary personal identification documents. 

These were some of Communities First’s takeaways from a small-scale pilot of its new Family Mobility Savings Program that deposited money into savings accounts for eight people as compensation for completing financial literacy and job readiness tasks. Communities First was one of 16 teams participating in the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge that shared their progress so far at a showcase event on Friday, April 28, hosted by GreenLight Fund at Durfee Innovation Society. 

The five-year challenge that launched in February 2022 is run by United Way for Southeastern Michigan in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions, whose research on the financial well-being of Detroiters motivated the challenge. Six to eight of the project teams will be selected this summer to continue to the pilot stage, where they will receive additional funding and technical assistance to start implementing their ideas.

Leonymae Aumentado, senior strategic projects manager at U-M’s Poverty Solutions, talks to an attendee at the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge showcase held April 28, 2023, at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. (Photo by Creative Focus Productions)

“Not all of the organizations are going to make it to the next phase. But an event like this is really important because it helps to generate outside interest in these pilots so they can explore other paths to move forward on,” said Leonymae Aumentado, strategic projects manager at Poverty Solutions, who supports the implementation of the challenge. 

At the showcase, Communities First staff outlined their plans to enroll 100 people in a six-month pilot of the Family Mobility Savings Program. To help them prepare to expand the savings program, U-M Poverty Solutions research assistant Nick Voelkner identified and analyzed barriers to financial security for Detroiters, including banks’ reliance on consumer reporting agencies to screen potential patrons, predatory lenders, overdraft fees, people’s distrust of banks, and low levels of financial literacy. 

“It was really helpful and gave us different eyes to look at things,” said Ashley Stozier, family mobility coordinator at Communities First. “I’m not a data person. I’m person-to-person. The data gave me different things to aim for.”

Communities First staff discuss their project at the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge showcase held April 28, 2023, at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. (Photo by Creative Focus Productions)

In all, 14 Poverty Solutions research assistants provided support to Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge teams, gathering information on topics ranging from community land trusts to demographics of Black workers in Detroit and the barriers faced by small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

“The goal for the research assistants doing this work is to support the organizations,” said Aumentado, who oversaw their work. “I also saw it as an opportunity for the research assistants to build a set of skills that are going to be useful to them if they want to work in this type of space.”

Voelkner (MSW ‘23), a Brighton native, addressed research questions for Communities First as well as Southwest Economic Solutions and GenesisHOPE. This was his first time working on financial well-being issues, and he was struck by how many banking policies benefit only the financial institution while negatively affecting people’s ability to accumulate savings. 

“Everything I’ve learned from Poverty Solutions has been so helpful,” Voelkner said. “It’s not only the memo writing, but how to structure it and convey information in a way that’s accessible and understandable and how to select information that’s really relevant.”

Poverty Solutions Research Assistant Nick Voelkner talks to an attendee at the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge showcase held April 28, 2023, at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. (Photo by Creative Focus Productions)

Kyra Reumann-Moore (MPA ‘23), originally of Philadelphia, said she also appreciated the experience she gained writing policy memos and analyzing qualitative research. She worked on research questions for the National Black Worker Center, a Black workers’ rights advocacy organization with 10 centers across the country and nine more centers in an incubation phase.

The organization is exploring opening a Detroit location, so Reumann-Moore gathered information on Black worker demographics, employment levels, and wages in Detroit as well as the history of the local labor movement and the migration of Black workers to Detroit. The research memo was so helpful that LaRonda Schenck Scott, development director for the National Black Worker Center, said she’s interested in having Reumann-Moore complete similar research for the other nine cities incubating Black Worker Centers.

“I gained a lot of knowledge that will be transferable to how I go about understanding the context of different cities,” Reumann-Moore said. “I love how community-centric the challenge is and how they are trying to improve the financial well-being of Detroiters based on what they’re hearing from residents.”

Poverty Solutions Research Assistant Kyra Reumann-Moore (left) listens to a presentation at the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge showcase held April 28, 2023, at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. (Photo by Creative Focus Productions)

Interested in more news like this? Subscribe to the Poverty Solutions Detroit Partnership on Economic Mobility newsletter.

Detroiters’ views on reparations connected to perception of racial wealth gap, other inequality

Contact: Lauren Slagter,

DETROIT — Detroiters’ perceptions of the racial wealth gap, the legacy of slavery and other forms of racial inequity are strongly connected to their support for reparations and policies that address racial inequity.

Overall, 63% of Detroit residents support some form of reparations, and 70% say addressing racial inequality should be a high policy priority for elected officials, according to a new analysis of survey findings from the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study and the Center for Racial Justice, with support from Poverty Solutions.

Detroit voters passed a ballot measure in 2021 to create a reparations task force to recommend housing and economic development programs for Black residents, and in February, the Detroit City Council appointed 13 people to the task force. Detroit is one of the cities where U-M’s Center for Social Solutions is learning from community-based reparations efforts as part of the national Crafting Democratic Futures project.

RelatedCandidate support for reparations would mobilize Detroit voters

Chart shows Detroiters' views on inequity“There is a strong link between awareness of racial inequality and support for reparative policies,” said Erykah Benson, U-M doctoral student in sociology and research fellow at the Center for Racial Justice, who analyzed the survey results. “We’re in a moment of national debate about how to think about, teach and resolve historical and contemporary injustices. How we collectively remember and understand our history shapes how we think about appropriate solutions for generational and ongoing injustices.”

In 2019, the median white household in the United States had about eight times the wealth of the median Black household—$184,000 compared to $23,000, respectively (wealth refers to the amount a household owns, minus what they owe). The racial gap in household income also is substantial: The median Black household had an annual income of about $46,000 in 2020 compared to $75,000 for white households.

Among the 73% of Detroiters who believe the average Black person is worse off than the average white person in terms of income and wealth, 71% support reparations and 75% say policies that address racial inequality should be a high priority. Among the 14% of Detroiters who believe the average Black person is equally well off as the average white person, 38% support reparations.

Detroiters who agree the legacy of slavery and discrimination continues to affect Black Americans today are more likely to support reparations (73%) compared to those who disagree with this statement (30%), according to the survey findings.

“Nearly 8 in 10 Detroiters believe America’s history of slavery and discrimination continues to impact the experiences and opportunities of Black Americans today. Understanding how Detroiters think about historical and current discrimination has important implications for the national discussion about reparations,” said Jasmine Simington, a joint doctoral candidate in public policy and sociology at U-M and a research fellow at the Center for Racial Justice, who contributed to the survey analysis.

The survey showed opposition to reparations is not necessarily the same as opposition to addressing racial inequality. Thirteen percent of Detroiters oppose reparations, yet 41% of those who oppose reparations still say addressing racial inequality should be a high policy priority for elected officials.

The survey was fielded between June 16 and Aug. 26, 2022, and captures the views of a representative sample of 2,339 Detroit residents. Results were weighted to reflect the population of the city of Detroit.


U-M’s Poverty Solutions marks impact of action-based research in 2022

By Lauren Slagter
Poverty Solutions

ANN ARBOR – From informing the way the U.S. Census estimates populations to reimagining land contracts as a path to homeownership and inspiring state legislation that would aid youth experiencing homelessness, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan continued to tackle the structures of poverty through action-based research in 2022.

“Each day, we partner with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty and empower families to live healthy and productive lives,” said H. Luke Shaefer, founding faculty director of Poverty Solutions, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy, and a professor of social work.

The university-wide, interdisciplinary initiative worked with 158 faculty affiliates spanning U-M’s three campuses and 65 student research assistants representing 10 academic departments last year. Poverty Solutions’ annual impact report, released this week, highlights key areas of impact, including:

  • Conducting an independent audit of Detroit’s 2020 Census population estimates, which found evidence of an undercount. In response to the findings, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters proposed broadening the scope of data allowable in challenging Census population estimates to make it easier for cities to submit high-quality administrative data and other sources;
  • Providing foundational analysis that informed a $13 million investment in the Detroit Eviction Fund to help implement Detroit’s new Right to Counsel ordinance;
  • Informing legislative efforts in Michigan and Maryland to promote supportive land contracts as a path to homeownership with regulations that guard against predatory contracts for people with limited access to mortgages and traditional credit;
  • Inspiring a package of bills in Michigan that will make it easier for youth experiencing homelessness to access health care; and
  • Recommending ways for Washtenaw County to maximize long-term impact and promote equity with one-time spending of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“We look to local leaders when setting our research agenda, which often takes our work in exciting and unexpected directions. We want to be responsive to community needs and play a role in bringing research, analysis, and evaluation to the table,” said Mara Ostfeld, associate faculty director and communications director at Poverty Solutions, research director at the Center for Racial Justice, and assistant research scientist at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

On campus, Poverty Solutions creates learning opportunities for students through its annual Real-World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions speak series that doubles as a course, the Poverty Solutions certificate program offered in partnership with the School of Social Work’s Community Action and Social Change minor, and student research opportunities for undergraduates through doctoral students.

The research initiative has supported the launch of seven new faculty pilot projects and several transdisciplinary initiatives led by faculty all over campus, including Housing Solutions for Health Equity with the School of Public Health, the Crafting Democratic Futures project in partnership with the Center for Social Solutions, and the Program for Equity in Adolescent and Child Health with Michigan Medicine. Poverty Solutions staff and faculty affiliates published more than 30 high-profile academic journal articles, policy briefs, and working papers in 2022.

“Poverty Solutions takes an active role in fostering relationships among faculty and students. We want to support the next generation of leaders in understanding the systems that perpetuate racial and socio-economic inequality as well as advancing efforts to eliminate poverty,” said Kristin Seefeldt, associate faculty director for education programs at Poverty Solutions and an associate professor of social work and public policy.


February Jobs Report: Job Growth Shows No Signs of Slowing

Analysis by Betsey Stevenson and Benny Docter 

Contact: Benny Docter,
Jeff Karoub,

The U.S. labor market grew by 311,000 jobs in February. Unemployment ticked up to 3.6%, while the number of employed expanded and the labor force participation rate also ticked up. Since October 2022, labor force participation has expanded slowly but steadily from 62.2% to 62.5%. This has brought 1.6 million additional people into the labor force over the past four months, allowing employers to continue to hire at rapid rates despite the historically low unemployment rate. 

While many anticipated that job growth would slow, so far it shows no signs of slowing. Job growth over the past three months has averaged 351,000 jobs per month, similar to the six-month average of 336,000 and the 12-month average of 362,000. While job growth is clearly not accelerating, it also shows no signs of slowing. The question is whether job growth of this pace can be sustained until labor force participation fully recovers. While many are concerned that the labor market is too tight, threatening to fuel further inflation, that view is based on the unemployment rate. Today’s wage data showed that wage growth has slowed substantially over the past few months, with annualized hourly wage growth of only 2.9% in February. 

The question on everyone’s mind: Is the labor market too tight, are we operating above potential? The answer depends on whether you think we can recover from the negative labor supply shock that was the pandemic and return to pre-pandemic labor force participation rates. Recent growth in the labor force participation rate shows that continued recovery is possible,” said Betsey Stevenson, economist at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. 

Labor force participation has risen steadily since November 2022, driven largely by women and people of color.

In each month from November 2022 through February 2023 labor supply rose, although at a small enough increase that no individual month was substantial enough to declare a clearly rising labor force participation rate. Stepping back and looking over the entire period shows a clear and significant increase. The overall labor force participation rate rose from 62.2% in November 2022 to 62.5%in February, an increase of 1.6 million people. This marks a high point for labor force participation since the pandemic began. 

Over this time period, women’s labor force participation rose from 56.5% to 57.2%, hitting a post-pandemic high, while the participation rate for men ticked down from 68.1% to 68%. Looking over a longer horizon, men’s labor force participation has been largely stagnant since the beginning of 2022 and is slightly lower than the post-pandemic high of 68.2% seen in March 2022. While women’s labor force participation showed weakening in the fall of 2022, today’s rate of 57.2% shows growth that has brought 816,000 more women into the labor force compared to what would have happened with the labor force participation rate of a year ago. While both men and women have yet to return to their pre-pandemic labor force participation rates, women have narrowed the gap more. Among prime age women – those ages 25 to 54 – women’s labor force participation is at a new all-time high, having fully recovered and continued to grow. In contrast, the labor force participation rate of prime age men remains below pre-pandemic rates. 

There are also large racial gaps in the expansion of labor supply, with labor supply growing the most among Black and Hispanic workers. The labor force participation rate of Hispanic adults increased from 65.7% in November 2022 to 66.8%in February and it rose from 62.3% to 63.4% among Black adults. The labor force participation rate among Hispanic workers has largely stagnated over the last year. While it is at a post-pandemic high, it remains below its pre-pandemic rate. In contrast, the labor force participation rate among Black workers is up over a full percentage point over the last year and is now higher than it was prior to the pandemic.  

Labor force participation rates are substantially lower for white adults following the pandemic.

The labor force participation rate of white adults rose from 61.8% to 62.1%, but their labor force participation rate remains slightly below the post-pandemic high reached in March 2022 and equal to the rate a year ago. The labor force participation rate among white workers remains more than a percentage point below its pre-pandemic rate. While white workers were the least likely to lose work in the early stages of the pandemic, they have been less likely to return to the labor market, with a smaller rebound in 2020 and very little growth since then. 

Women were slower to recover jobs but they are now adding jobs faster than men.

In February 2020, women held half of all non-farm payroll jobs. By April 2020, that share had fallen to 49.3%as women had lost 11.9 million jobs, while men had lost 10 million. Women regained slightly more jobs than men by the end of 2020, enough to narrow but not close the gap. 

Taking a look at the three years since the pandemic began, women lost 400,000 jobs a month on average in the first year. By the second year, women were gaining 300,000 jobs a month. That growth slowed in the third year to 197,000 jobs a month. For men, the job loss was smaller in the first year, averaging 335,000 jobs per month. Male job growth was faster in the second year, averaging 322,000 thousand. As a result, by February 2022, women held 49.7%of jobs, similar to their share in February 2021. 

Male job growth slowed much more than job growth for women in the third year, with 165,000 jobs held by men added per month. In February 2023, monthly job growth was fairly evenly split between men and women, and women’s share of jobs overall was 49.8%.

One explanation for this pattern is that female-dominated occupations were the slowest to recover and grow out of the pandemic. As a result, women looking for jobs after the pandemic have had to look across a wider set of industries.

Women have entered previously male-dominated occupations in higher numbers since the beginning of the pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic women lost more jobs than men both because the industries they are most likely to work in lost the most jobs and they lost the most jobs in any given industry. The result was that education and health services became slightly less female dominated as did leisure and hospitality. Since then, more women have been hired back than men, but the shares of women in these occupations remain lower than prior to the pandemic.  

In male-dominated occupations like information, construction, manufacturing, and transportation and warehousing, women’s job growth has substantially outpaced their share of jobs. The result is that women’s share of jobs has grown in these male-dominated occupations. These shifts illustrate how women’s labor force participation is still evolving, as women have been willing to shift to new occupations as market conditions shifted away from services toward goods.  

Non-farm payrolls show overall that women’s recovery and growth has been slower than that of men. This pattern is a historical anomaly, as previous recessions have seen women’s jobs recover more quickly. However, in previous recessions, job growth in female-dominated occupations like education and health services led the recovery. As job growth shifts from male-dominated occupations to female-dominated occupations, whether employers find it easy to hire will ultimately depend on whether women’s labor force participation continues to grow.

Women have gained jobs in construction at three times their share of the industry.

Since the start of the pandemic, women have gained a disproportionate share of construction jobs, raising their share of jobs from the very small 13.1%to the not-quite-as-small 14.1 %.

The recently passed CHIPS Act requires a lot of new construction workers. Some have worried that it will simply be impossible to hire all the construction workers needed for the planned projects. For example, Catherine Rampell recently pointed out that projects in Ohio will require more construction workers than are available in all of Ohio. Where are these workers going to come from? 

One answer is women. Women have been gaining jobs in construction at three times their share of the industry. Similarly, women have been gaining jobs in manufacturing at almost two times their share of the industry. 

Perhaps it’s no wonder that states like Oregon have started bundling child care with apprenticeship programs. They want to train women, and women need child care to be able to take some of these positions. More expansively, the CHIPS program requires those looking to access more than $150 million in subsidies to provide child care to their workers

Child care programs will help bring more women into construction and manufacturing, but it is worth noting that research shows white men are the most likely to benefit from such child care subsidies. This research highlights the fact that in most families with kids, all parents are attempting to work and a lack of child care can create employment problems for men and women.

About this analysis

The University of Michigan’s monthly Rapid Insights labor market analysis is conducted by Betsey Stevenson, economist at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and Benny Docter, senior data and policy analyst at Poverty Solutions. The project is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, with support from the Ford School and Poverty Solutions.

First-ever look at child, youth homelessness data at county, congressional district levels reveals impact of pandemic

Contact: Alisha Qiu, (734) 934-2481,

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National nonprofit SchoolHouse Connection and Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan today released searchable data profiles that make available—for the first time—data on child and youth homelessness at the county and congressional district levels, as well as the national, state, and school district levels.

The profiles raise awareness of the scale and impact of homelessness on children and youth and underscore the need for action to meet their needs.

“As a new session of Congress begins, and many state legislative sessions commence, these data profiles will help shine a light on a hidden population of vulnerable children and youth,” said Barbara Duffield, executive director of SchoolHouse Connection. “We hope policymakers and practitioners alike use the profiles to understand gaps in support and to take action to prevent today’s homeless children and youth from becoming tomorrow’s homeless adults.”

The county, congressional district, and school district profiles include the following data:

  • The numbers of PreK-12 children and youth identified as experiencing homelessness and enrolled in school in the 2020-2021 school year, including the number of students experiencing homelessness as a percentage of all students and the percent of school-aged children living in poverty.
  • The living situation of children and youth when they were first identified as homeless.
  • Status as English learner, special education student, migrant, and/or unaccompanied youth (youth not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian).
  • Race/ethnicity of identified children and youth experiencing homelessness.
  • The number/percent of school districts that received dedicated federal funding to support children and youth experiencing homelessness (county/congressional district); or federal funding subgrant status (school district).

The state and national profiles include these additional data elements:

  • Estimates of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness.
  • Number/percent of young children experiencing homelessness enrolled in Head Start or Early Head Start.
  • High school graduation rates.
  • The number of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness who completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) over the past three years.
  • The number of school districts that received one-time COVID-19 relief funds (known as the American Rescue Plan – Homeless Children and Youth funds), including as a percentage of all school districts.

Jennifer Erb-Downward

“One of the important elements of the data profiles is that they allow communities to explore where under-identification of children experiencing homelessness may be taking place. We know that under-identification is widespread and that it negatively impacts children, depriving them of critical support. With these data, communities can change this long-standing issue,” said Jennifer Erb-Downward, director of housing stability programs and policy initiatives at U-M’s Poverty Solutions.

The data profiles are accompanied by two new analyses:

  • An analysis of patterns of under-identification among school districts that do and do not receive dedicated funding to serve children and youth experiencing homelessness, including rural school districts and public charter schools. The analysis reveals that the likelihood of under-identification is much higher in school districts without dedicated funding, and that the number of school districts receiving dedicated homeless education funding more than doubled as a result of a bipartisan amendment to the American Rescue Plan Act, now reaching over half of all school districts.
  • An analysis of recent trends in child and youth homelessness that show the impact of the pandemic, including a disproportionate decline in enrollment and increase in chronic absenteeism.

The child and youth homelessness data profiles will be updated in Fall 2023 to incorporate 2021-2022 data, include more early childhood data, and show trends over time.


Beyond Rhetoric offers road map for responding to racism as a public health crisis

Contact: Lauren Slagter,

FLINT — A group of local leaders and public health researchers are sharing their process for responding to racism as a public health crisis, with the goal of supporting other municipalities and organizations in addressing the links between racism and health outcomes.

The Beyond Rhetoric project, which launched a new website with anti-racism resources, began in 2020 in response to Genesee County commissioners passing a resolution that formally recognized racism as a public health crisis. Genesee County, which is home to more than 400,000 people and includes the city of Flint, is among the hundreds of municipalities across the country that have acknowledged how racism contributes to disparate health outcomes for people of color compared to white people.

Lisa Lapeyrouse portrait

Lisa Lapeyrouse

To guide the efforts in Flint, Lisa Lapeyrouse, associate professor in the Department of Public Health and Health Sciences at the University of Michigan-Flint, joined forces with Kent Key, executive deputy director of Community-Based Organization Partners in Flint and assistant professor in the Charles Stewart Mott Division of Public Health at Michigan State University’s College of Medicine.

With support from U-M’s Poverty Solutions, Lapeyrouse and Key convened a research team to work with community members to identify evidence-based practices and policies that promote the health and well-being of people of color.

“Like the project name suggests, we wanted to ensure this anti-racism work went ‘beyond rhetoric’ and contributed to meaningful improvements in health outcomes for Genesee County residents of color,” said Key, a Flint native who drafted the resolution passed by Genesee County.

Kent Key

“Racism influences all facets of life from where we live to where we send our kids to school, where we shop for groceries, the environmental hazards we’re exposed to and our ability to access quality health care,” Key said. “All of those factors impact health.”

Beyond Rhetoric started by forming a 13-person Community Action Council to act as the decision-making body in outlining a plan to address racism as a public health crisis in Genesee County. The research team used a diversity index tool to recruit community leaders, which also is featured on the project website.

Drawing on themes from prior community dialogues on race and racism, the Community Action Council drafted a strategic plan that identified the racist policies and practices that impact the health and well-being of people of color and proposed ways to change those practices. Through focus groups, residents offered feedback on the strategic plan and recommended additions.

The priority areas that emerged span education, employment, finance, health care, housing, law enforcement and politics. Some of the recommendations in those priority areas include hiring more health care professionals of color, reforming school discipline policies and making community services accessible to people with disabilities and people with limited English proficiency.

“We really wanted this to be a community-engaged process, so there would be momentum and buy-in to get the work done,” Lapeyrouse said. “Overall, people were really supportive of it and thought the plan was very comprehensive.”

Now, the Beyond Rhetoric research team is recruiting people to join Community Action Workgroups that will implement the recommendations. They’re reaching out to organizations already involved in anti-racism work in priority areas identified in the strategic plan.

The research team is sharing what they learn on their website, where they’ve created a searchable database of anti-racism resources ranging from peer-reviewed journal articles to videos, podcasts and magazine articles. Lapeyrouse said the materials are suitable for a variety of people, including teens and young adults, parents, academics, educators and community activists.


January Jobs Report Shows Exceptionally Strong Labor Market

Analysis by Betsey Stevenson and Benny Docter

Contact: Jeff Karoub,
Benny Docter,

Employers added 517,000 jobs in January 2023, capping a year marked by record low unemployment and high job growth. The unemployment rate fell to 3.4%, a low last seen in 1969. This month’s employment report is particularly complex because the release includes an annual update to estimates of the overall population size and corrections to the employer data that reflect a comparison of survey estimates with comprehensive counts of payroll jobs. 

“Job growth was stronger than we realized last year and yet inflation moderated. Clearly, we need to be more circumspect about our understanding of job growth, a tight labor market, and the potential for wage price spirals when the growth is part of a recovery from a pandemic that plunged us temporarily into a hole,” said Betsey Stevenson, economist at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. 

1. Job growth has been faster than we previously realized

Average monthly job growth in 2021 exceeded that of any previous year on record, while 2022 was the second fastest year on record for job growth. And now we know both of these years had faster job growth than we previously realized. The patterns remain the same: job growth accelerated in the second half of 2021 before slowing in the first half of 2022 and slowing further in the second half of 2022. 

Most notably, the data revisions add 69,000 jobs per month between July and December 2021, bringing job growth to a monthly average of 659,000. While growth slowed in the second half of 2022, the revisions added 51,000 jobs per month, bringing job growth to 358,000 per month between July and December of 2022. 

The total number of jobs in the economy surpassed the February 2020 level in June 2022. And yet job growth since then has remained roughly twice as large as monthly job growth during the pre-pandemic boom. 

2. Large gap remains in different measures of employment

Each month of understanding of the labor market is shaped by two surveys. One survey asks people about their households’ labor market experiences. This survey, known as the household survey, gives us our measure of the unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate. The second survey focuses on businesses, asking them about the workers on their payrolls. This survey, known formally as the establishment survey (and informally as the employer survey) gives us the count of the total number of jobs in the economy.

Both surveys can give us a measure of the number of jobs. Each month we can compare the change in employment measured by the household survey with the change in employment measured by the establishment survey. 

These two measures are not the same because people can hold multiple jobs and can be  self-employed, while the establishment survey only covers nonagricultural business establishments. However, we can make adjustments to make the measurements comparable. 

Prior to the pandemic, the estimates of the number of jobs largely matched across the two surveys. In February 2020 both showed 152 million jobs. However, today the employer survey shows that there are 155 million jobs overall, while the household survey shows only 153 million. This 2 million job gap has narrowed from an estimated 3 million, as the population estimate revisions incorporated into the report this month added nearly a million more people with jobs.

Since the pandemic began, the survey of employers has consistently shown fewer jobs lost in the pandemic and a stronger recovery in job growth compared to the household survey (adjusted to be a comparable measure to the employer survey). Which one is true? Both of them have potential measurement errors and either could be wrong. The establishment survey has the strength of being compared to comprehensive counts of payroll jobs every March, and this past March those comprehensive counts revealed an ongoing gap in our measures of employment.

3. Women’s labor force participation has recovered faster than men’s

Taken together, young and prime age women are more likely to be participating in the labor force today compared to prior to the pandemic. In contrast, men, across all age groups continue to have lower labor force participation rates. 

Perhaps most discouraging is young men, those ages 16 to 24, for whom labor force participation in January 2023 had little recovered from January 2021; in both cases labor force participation was a full percentage point below pre-pandemic rates. In contrast, young women’s labor force participation fell by more, but recovered steadily over the past two years. In January 2023, women ages 16 to 24 were half a percentage point more likely to be in the labor force compared to prior to the pandemic.

Another point of weakness in labor force participation remains older workers. Both men and women ages 55 and over are less likely to be in the labor force than they were in January of 2020. Some of this reflects the aging population, but most of it reflects continued declines in participation among the youngest people over age 55. 

Among those ages 25 to 34, both men’s and women’s labor force participation has steadily recovered, although neither group is back to pre-pandemic rates. In contrast, women ages 35 to 54 have higher labor force participation rates than they had prior to the pandemic. Labor force participation rates of men in this age group showed improvements in 2022, but remain below pre-pandemic participation rates.

4. Every industry gained jobs this month except the tech sector, and this month’s acceleration was concentrated in industries still recovering from COVID-19

The most surprising aspect of the January employment growth is how broad based it was. But even below that broad-based growth were trends of slowing growth in the goods producing sector and increasing job growth in services, particularly the service sectors that were leading job growth prior to the pandemic. Both leisure and hospitality and private education and health services grew faster in January than the 2022 monthly average. Business and professional services also grew faster in January than its 2022 monthly average. However this sector is one of the strongest growing sectors and is well beyond its pre-pandemic level of hiring, which may indicate that a slowdown in hiring is on the horizon for many parts of the sector. 

Tech sector layoffs have dominated the news over the past few months and the expected slowdown is seen in information service jobs. Indeed, the sector shrunk by 5,000 jobs in January. It is a small sector, with average job growth of 13,000 jobs a month in 2022, but this accounts for a 5.1% expansion of employment in the sector. More broadly, the sector ended 2022 with employment that was 7.4% higher than February 2020. 

Government grew rapidly, largely reflecting the end of a strike that brought workers back to payroll and therefore should not be over interpreted as a recovery in government jobs. There are 428,000 fewer jobs in January compared with February 2020.

5. The strongest job growth continues to come from leisure and hospitality

Most leisure and hospitality work is in-person, and unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic hit this industry particularly hard. Almost three years later, there are over half a million fewer jobs compared with the pre-pandemic peak. The sector also experienced extremely rapid growth in the boom years prior to the pandemic. Full recovery in the sector likely requires not only achieving February 2020 levels of employment, but returning, at least somewhat, to the pre-pandemic trend growth in employment. 

Employers, however, are working to continue to hire and expand, with a surge in job openings in December. Much of the rapid growth in the number of jobs in recent months has come from smaller seasonal declines. Typically, peak employment in the sector occurs in July, and January marks a low point in the number of jobs in the sector. Some of the growth may reflect a slowdown in seasonal layoffs as employers have struggled to hire and may be retaining workers rather than ramping down and ramping back up. If that is the case, we could see slower job growth in the sector this spring.

However, historical patterns suggest the leisure and hospitality sector still has a long way to grow and is likely to help sustain job growth even as other industries start to falter.

About this analysis

The University of Michigan’s monthly Rapid Insights labor market analysis is conducted by Betsey Stevenson, economist at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and Benny Docter, senior data and policy analyst at Poverty Solutions. The project is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, with support from the Ford School and Poverty Solutions.

Poverty Solutions to help guide Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency reforms

Contact: Nick Assendelft,, 517-388-3135

LANSING – The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency continues its transformation of the agency by announcing today a UIA Modernization Workgroup, which will advise the UIA on significant improvements in how it can better serve Michigan workers and employers. Members of the workgroup represent labor, business, and jobless advocates.

The UIA Modernization Workgroup will build on Director Julia Dale’s reform efforts that include improving customer service, fighting fraud, and reducing UIA’s case backlogs. The workgroup’s goal is to provide strategic immediate and future recommendations that will continue Dale’s goal of building an agency that is user-focused and allows for efficient processing of claims, payments, and tax collections.

“This partnership with organizations representing workers and employers reinforces the UIA’s commitment to ensure Michiganders who lose their jobs through no fault of their own will have easy, efficient, and equitable access to the jobless benefits they deserve,” Dale said. “Feedback from a coalition of partners uniquely experienced in the nuances and subtleties of the Michigan unemployment program is critical to instituting meaningful reform at the UIA.”

The stakeholders participating in the workgroup are the Detroit Regional Chamber; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; IBEW Local 58; Legal Services Association of Michigan; Michigan AFL-CIO; Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council; Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget; Michigan Health and Hospital Association; Michigan League for Public Policy; Michigan Manufacturers Association; Michigan Poverty Law Program; SEIU Local No. 517M; Small Business Association of Michigan; UNITE HERE Local 24; University of Michigan Poverty Solutions; and the Upjohn Institute.

The workgroup will have four priorities:

  • Setting modernization goals.
  • Understanding users’ experiences and needs.
  • Supporting Michigan workers and economy.
  • Stabilizing the Trust Fund and continued partnership.

It will also provide informal recommendations on other UIA issues as they are identified by UIA’s Director and staff.

“Each organization’s unique experience, coupled with the Agency’s goal to implement significant change, will allow us to build a system that works for every Michigander,” Dale said. “I’m excited to collaborate closely with the members of the workgroup on immediate and long-term substantive changes that will have significant positive impacts on the ways users access the services that we provide.”

Unemployment compensation is a lifeline for workers, and weekly benefits ensure they can stay afloat, cover rent or mortgage payments, buy food and clothing, access transportation to look for work, and pay household bills. Lowering barriers with a user-focused application process will ensure timely delivery of benefits and facilitate job searches for every worker.

The UIA Modernization Workgroup builds on important reforms under Director Dale’s leadership:

  • Announced the replacement of the agency’s decade-old computer system with a user-friendly, state-of-the-art interface for claimants and businesses. The new system will allow timely program adjustments as economic conditions change and quick analysis of data, which is currently not possible.
  • Collaborated with the Attorney General’s office as well as local, state and federal law enforcement to bring bad actors to justice and combat fraud at the agency.
  • Approved more than 76,000 overpayment waivers of state and federal benefits paid out during the global pandemic, waiving more than $555 million.
  • Halted overpayment collections on claims filed since March 1, 2020, while the agency addresses pending protests and appeals.
  • Revamped the website to make it more responsive to those using a mobile phone or tablet to access services.
  • Identified initiatives and processes that would ease access to jobless benefits for workers in underserved communities under a $6.8 million equity grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).
  • Reassigned staff and resources to address the largest categories of claims that are contributing to the agency’s case backlogs.
  • Identified necessary changes to correspondence to add a human-centered approach to make letters easier to understand for claimants and employers.
  • Implemented new ethics and security clearance policies for employees and contractors.
  • Rebuilt to nearly $1.8 billion (and growing) the UI Trust Fund from which weekly benefits are paid to workers.

Release courtesy of State of Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Employers, mentors needed to develop future talent through summer youth employment program

SummerWorks connects young adults ages 16-24 with 10-weeks of paid, quality career experience, professional development, and mentorship opportunities

Contact: Kathleen Hurley,, 734-219-5141

WASHTENAW COUNTY – SummerWorks seeks to pair more than 100 of Washtenaw County’s motivated young people, aged 16-24, with Washtenaw County employers and University of Michigan departments. Youth living or attending school in Washtenaw County can apply for a quality, 10-week paid summer internship in a variety of fields. During the program, SummerWorks also provides structured professional development as well as mentorship and leadership opportunities.

“SummerWorks is a great opportunity for employers and young adults to connect in ways that they may not have otherwise. The young adults are talented and eager to learn, and the employers understand that to stay competitive they need to utilize innovative strategies and help. The program allows both parties to help each other reach their goals by joining the best and brightest young adults and employers to make magic happen over 10 weeks,” said Cheranissa Roach, economic opportunity manager at Washtenaw County’s Office for Economic and Community Development

SummerWorks’ mentorship program receives applications from retired and professional adults worldwide. Those interested commit as little as 1 hour per week and receive ongoing mentorship guidance and support from SummerWorks staff.

SummerWorks’ employer participants provide a minimum of 20 hours of internship work per week at a rate of $15/hour or $17/hour, based on youth participants’ completion of a high school degree or equivalent. Intern wage support is available for employers who qualify.

Applications for employers and mentors open Jan. 15 at If you are interested in learning more, please RSVP to attend an employer and mentor info session, by visiting Virtual and in-person info sessions run Feb. 10 through March 15 and are held at MichiganWorks! Southeast in Ypsilanti
or on the University of Michigan campus.

Info sessions offer a chance to meet SummerWorks staff, get an overview of the program, and learn about the benefits of providing internships for young adults through the SummerWorks program.

For more information, Washtenaw County businesses and organizations can contact Kathleen Hurley at or 734-219-5141, and U-M departments can contact Armeka Richey at or 734-355-4597.

If you know someone aged 16-24 residing or attending school in Washtenaw County who would like to participate in SummerWorks 2023, youth application and program information can be found at The youth application deadline is March 12.

SummerWorks is a partnership between the Washtenaw County Office for Community and Economic Development, MichiganWorks! Southeast, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and the University of Michigan. SummerWorks’ Washtenaw County employer recruitment effort is supported again this year by Amy Cell Talent.

Partner Profile: Detroit Phoenix Center

In the wake of the economic upheaval of the pandemic, 43% of Detroit parents reported they fell behind on housing payments in 2021, putting their families at risk of eviction, housing instability, and homelessness. The Detroit Phoenix Center is a crucial source of support for youth in Detroit without a stable place to live. Every year, the nonprofit serves hundreds of young people, meeting their basic needs and offering leadership development opportunities. Courtney Smith, founder and CEO of the Detroit Phoenix Center, talked with the University of Michigan about how the organization meets immediate needs while pursuing systemic change.

Visit the U-M Detroit page to learn more about Poverty Solutions’ partnership with the Detroit Phoenix Center.