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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

What is a ‘good-paying’ job in Michigan? Tell us what you think

The hand is pressing calculators, piggy bank with wooden house. buy or rent question on note with calculators on desk.
  • Michigan needs to grow wages to compete with other states, experts say
  • One big tool for economic development is corporate subsidies
  • How much do you need to make to be middle class in Michigan? Let us know

Bridge Michigan wants to hear from you. 

The prosperity of state residents is on the mind of Michigan legislators, economic development officials and public policy experts.  

Michigan residents used to out-earn most Americans. Today, the state ranks 39th among states for per-capita income at $57,038.


Experts say Michigan has too many jobs that don’t pay well, wages are falling in its prime industry — auto manufacturing — and the state isn’t keeping pace with neighbors in attracting high-paying employers.


One tool in the arsenal is corporate subsidies. A Bridge Michigan investigation of the state’s primary subsidy programs revealed the state pledged $335 million in 2023 to attract 83 companies that plan to hire 11,408 workers.

The average pay: About  $50,689, or about $24 per hour. Half of the promised jobs will pay less than that. 

That’s less than the median household in the state, which ranges from $63,000 to $111,000, depending on family size.

But for a state that helped invent the American middle class with the auto industry, definitions of what “middle class” means in Michigan can be elusive. Estimates are all over the map for what a family of four needs to get by: One metric says $54,000 per year is enough to “survive,” while others say $80,000 is needed for a living wage.

The answer could help define Michigan’s future, as legislators and policy experts debate issues including equity, population, prosperity and education.

What do you think?

  • How much do you have to make in Michigan to live a middle class or higher lifestyle? 
  • What lessons can you share? 
  • What do our decision-makers need to know? 

Let us know by emailing us. We may use your answers in a future story. 

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