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Study: Michigan minority families falling behind

Mar 18, 2015

Half of Michigan's minority working families are considered low-income.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new study shows minority working families in Michigan are twice as likely to be low-income earners as white working families.

The report shows half of the state's working minority families fall below the official poverty rate, around $40,000 for a family of three, compared to 27% of working white families.

"We need a well-educated and thriving workforce that will help to grow the economy for everyone, but that doesn’t happen when we have families that are low-income or struggling,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice-president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. 

The League is calling for another increase to Michigan’s minimum wage to help bridge the income gap.

“The best way to get people out of poverty and to get people off of government assistance programs is to make sure they’re making enough money to support their families,” Holcomb-Merrill said.

The League also wants expansions to Michigan’s childcare assistance programs and Medicaid benefits, as well as increases to need-based financial aid for postsecondary education.

Holcomb-Merrill said wealth disparities can create an "us against them" situation in Michigan cities.

"You have particular groups that are doing well and other groups that are not doing well,” she said. “That impacts the community, to have that kind of divide.”