New reports ID five housing ‘hot spots’ in Michigan

metzger-350Michigan’s housing stock is thinning, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which pegged the state as one of only two with fewer housing units in 2012 than in 2010. Neighboring Illinois is the other.

But the state of housing is far from equal across Michigan. In fact, there are growing hot spots for housing – areas that, not coincidentally, are showing increases in jobs and wages, too.

Housing Unit Change by State, 2010-2012

While the trends are not surprising, one must understand that “housing loss is imputed by the Census Bureau based on type and age of housing due to a lack of available data on actual demolitions. Thus, while these statistics are useful for distinguishing rapidly growing states and counties from those that are growing slowly or declining, they have a substantial margin of error that prevents making reliable distinctions among states and counties with similar patterns.”

Wayne and Genesee counties were, by far, the largest losers of housing stock. The majority of this loss is attributable to the demolition of vacant and dangerous buildings in the core cities of Detroit and Flint. The other large housing losers tended to be urban core counties of Michigan’s metropolitan areas.

Housing Unit Change by County in Michigan, 2010-2012

But 22 of Michigan’s 83 counties did gain housing units during the period. These were led by Ottawa, Macomb, Kent, Grand Traverse and Washtenaw counties where demand for housing has really bounced back with the end of the economic and housing crises that Michigan has weathered.

This recovery is confirmed via new stats from the U.S. Department of Labor in its latest “County Employment and Wages” report for the 4th Quarter of 2012, which indicate continued housing growth in these areas.

While no Michigan county made it into the top tier of percent growth in employment or wages between the 4th Quarters of 2011 and 2012, the results for several were extremely positive.

The state of Michigan matched the nation as a whole with a 1.9 percent growth in employment between December 2011 and December 2012. Leading the charge for the 10 most populous Michigan counties were Ottawa, Oakland and Kent counties, with growth rates of 3.8, 3.4 and 3.0 percent, respectively.  This resulted in national rankings of 20th, 33rd and 52nd.  Washtenaw County also experienced an employment growth rate above the state average.  In spite of housing unit losses, both Wayne and Genesee did experience employment growth in the one percent range.

Employment Growth, December 2011 – 2012, in Select Michigan Counties

The results for wage growth were not quite as positive. While Michigan wages increased by 2.3 percent over the year, this was less than half the rate of growth for the nation as a whole. Our average weekly wage also dropped below the national average, standing at 95 percent of the U.S. average.

Wage Growth, 4th Quarter 2011 – 2012, in Select Michigan Counties

While no Michigan county matched national growth, several fared much better than the state as a whole. Kalamazoo County led all others with a 4 percent increase. This was followed by Washtenaw, Oakland and Kent counties. Ottawa County, while experiencing strong employment growth, showed little change in wages. Genesee County wages were the only ones to decrease. Average weekly wages exceeded the national average only in southeast Michigan. Oakland County came in at 114 percent, followed by Wayne, Washtenaw and Macomb at 108 percent, 103 percent and 101 percent, respectively.

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