Profile: Workforce Trends

Please note, most of these updates are for the time period of 2010-2020. Therefore, the effects of the COVID pandemic and economic recession are reflected in this report.

From 2011 to 2021, unemployment in the Detroit region and the US were nearly equal, with the exception of 2020. While unemployment in the Detroit region continued to follow the direction of the national trend across a 10-year period, the 11 counties near Detroit experienced more unemployment than the country overall.

Detroit Chart of Unemployment Rate 2021

The Detroit region’s unemployment rate peaked at 11%, in 2011 — higher than the US unemployment rate of 8.9%. The unemployment rates of the Detroit region and the US nearly converged in 2015. In 2019, the rate of unemployment fell to 4.2%, a level not seen since the early 2000s. The Detroit region and the US experienced a large spike in unemployment, rising to 11.1% and 8.1%, respectively, in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following year, in 2021, unemployment rates stabilized, with the Detroit region’s rate falling to 4.7% and the national average falling to 5.4%.

Chart of Total Enrollment 2020

Universities in the Detroit region saw declining enrollment figures over the past decade. In 2010, 494,870 students were enrolled in post-secondary across the region. By 2020, this figure fell to 337,850 students. Enrollment in the Detroit region has fallen more rapidly than national benchmarks. In 2020, US enrollment declined by just 0.7%. Meanwhile, enrollment in Detroit region schools fell by 3.2%.

Detroit Chart of Graduates Per Year 2020

The number of post-secondary graduates rose during the years following the Great Recession, climbing from 64,608 graduates in 2008 to 75,747 graduates in 2012. This uptrend in graduates was likely spurred on by people seeking an alternative to competing in a poor job market. As the economy continued its recovery and the job market improved, the number of annual graduates gradually declined. In 2020, just 62,398 students graduated from Detroit region colleges and universities.

Until 2020, graduation growth rates in the Detroit region have been lower than national trends. In 2020, graduation rates among all college students in the Detroit region fell by 7.6%. Nationally in 2020, graduation rates among all college students fell by 9.9%.