Detroit Regional Dashboard: Overview of Economic and Social Trends

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Key Metrics

One of the nation’s most populous regions and largest economies is the Detroit Region, which has shown resiliency over the past few years. There has been positive economic output, population increase, and job growth with steady labor force participation rates.

  • The annual gross domestic product (GDP) in the Detroit Region reached $290 billion in 2021, increasing 8.3% in one year, which outpaced the nation’s average GDP growth.
  • There are more than 5.5 million residents in the Detroit Region, which increased by more than 50,000 people from 2019 to 2021.
  • The labor force participation rate in the Detroit Metro was equal to the national average rate in 2019 but has dropped slightly below with a rate of 62.4% in 2021.

Economic Growth

The Detroit Region’s economy has been trending in a positive direction based on the economic indicators over the past few years. There was significant employment growth coupled with increased income and a decline in the poverty rate.

  • Employment in 2021 surpassed pre-pandemic totals with more than 2.6 million workers in the Detroit Region, which increased 9.8% in one year.
  • Median household income in the Detroit MSA increased 5.8% and the mean income per capita increased 7.6% from 2019 to 2021.

Business Climate

The business network in the Detroit Region has a strong global reach. However, this was directly impacted by the pandemic. Both foreign direct investments and trade exports posted declines, while the industrial real estate market, venture capital (VC), and new businesses experienced notable and strong growth.

  • There were $1.2 billion total foreign direct investments in the Detroit Region, but the investment per project decreased by 23.1% from 2020 to 2021.
  • The Detroit Region’s new business applications reached 105,029 in 2021, increasing significantly at 65% compared to 2019.
  • Michigan led the nation in VC investment growth, increasing 78.6% in the past five years to a total of $1.4 billion VC investments in 2021.


The Detroit Region has some of the largest talent hubs in the nation, which are supported by innovative talent pipeline programs. Employment growth, education attainment (associate’s or higher), and occupation wages all have increased in the Detroit Region.

  • The Detroit Region boasts a 2.6 million workforce, with the percentage of workers in STEM- occupations (7.4%) is higher than the national average in 2021.
  • There are more than 1.7 million residents with an associate degree or higher in 2021 (25 years or older) in the Detroit Region. The education attainment rate is higher than the national average and increased by 2.1 percentage points in the past two years.


The Detroit Region’s vast education ecosystem is known for its robust K-12 schools and nationally recognized higher education institutions. Over the past few years, there has been a notable increase in degree completions.

  • High school graduation rates in the Detroit Region increased 0.4 percentage points in the past five years, but the rate remains below the national average (85.3%) in 2021.
  • Only half of students enroll in a postsecondary education within six months of high school graduation. Enrollment has decreased 11.2 percentage points since 2017.
  • In 2021, more than 36,700 bachelor’s degrees or higher were awarded at private and public four-year universities in the Detroit Region, an increase of 3.8% year over year.


Positive gains have been made over the past several years in median home values, voter participation, and homeownership in the Detroit Region, all of which play an essential role in supporting strong communities.

  • Ranked the 3rd most affordable metro for the third consecutive year, the cost of living in the Detroit Region is relatively affordable compared to other major metropolitan areas with populations greater than 4 million.
  • Median home values have steadily improved in recent years. The average home value in the Region is $222,372 which is below the national average ($281,400) but has been increasing, offering affordable housing and investment opportunities for residents.


The State plans to invest more than $5 billion to improve Michigan’s infrastructure, focusing on projects like high-speed internet, roads, and public transportation, among others. Overall, the regional infrastructure indicators are trending in a positive direction.

  • In 2021, 66.4% of roads – or almost 18,000 total lane miles – were rated in good or fair conditions, improving 9.4 percentage points since 2019.
  • In 2023, The Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) earned the 2022 Airport Service Quality Award for Best Airport in North America. Annual DTW passenger volumes have increased by 67.4% from 2020 to 2021, a significant improvement from pandemic lows.


The Detroit Region is known for having a rich diverse cultural history. The dashboard aims to drive collective impact towards a more equitable region by collecting and analyzing data from an equity lens. This is why at least one equity-related metric is included for each category, with the goal of highlighting disparities and progress between race, ethnicity, and/or gender.

  • In the Detroit Region, the two largest populations are white (67%) and Black or African American (20%), compared to the national rate of 12% in 2021.
  • More than 36,700 degrees awarded in the Detroit Region, but gaps remain among the Black or African American population, making up 9.7% of degree completions but accounting for 20% of the Region’s population.
  • While the median household income continues to increase in the Detroit Region, the income disparities between the two largest populations remain significant. White median household income ($76,178) is almost $35,000 higher than the Black or African American household ($41,282) in 2021.