News Bite

Detroit’s Unemployment 8.1% Before Epidemic, Spiked To 40.4% In May 2020

ACLU had warned, minorities, disadvantaged ‘bear the brunt of tough public health measures’

In the midst of the state of Michigan’s first stay-at-home emergency order issued in 2020, the city of Detroit’s unemployment rate rocketed to more than 40%.

Unemployment in Detroit was running at 8.1% in February 2020. When the COVID pandemic struck, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a stay-at-home order that ran from March 23, 2020, until June 1, 2020. Detroit’s unemployment rate soared to 38.8% by April of that year, and 40.4% in May. The initial stay-at-home order was followed by other restrictions and lockdowns that weren't fully lifted until June 2021.

The state of Michigan’s unemployment rate was 3.7% in February 2020 and jumped to 20.8% by May 2020.

A 40.4% unemployment rate in Detroit may have been an example of one reason the ACLU in a 2008 report opposed what it called "extreme measures" governments might take in response to a flu pandemic, such as quarantines. That report stated, “Minorities and other socially disadvantaged populations tend to bear the brunt of tough public health measures.”

Detroit’s unemployment rate had dropped to 10.2% as of May 2021, the most recent data available.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.