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Wages in Flint area see seventh-highest national growth in 2015

Jul 7, 2016

A recent University of Michigan research analysis shows wage growth in Flint was the seventh-highest nationally in 2015, outpacing growth in Michigan and in major cities around the country. 

Wages in Genesee County, which comprises the Flint Metropolitan Statistical Area, grew 5.7% in 2015. Two other Michigan MSAs ranked in the top 100: Bay City was 26th and Kalamazoo was 37th. With 3.4% growth in real wages, Detroit ranked 101st. 

As a state, Michigan ranked 15th in wage growth, and the Midwest saw stronger growth than any other region.

Donald Grimes, the U-M economist who conducted the analysis, said the growth was driven by a variety of private sector industries.

"What was notable was that real wages in Flint's construction industry increased by 5.8 percent and in manufacturing by 7.4 percent," Grimes told the University of Michigan news service. "Also, there was almost a 1,000 job gain in the highly paid professional services and corporate headquarters industries. Adding these jobs in these highly paid industries accounted for about one-third of the wage growth in Flint."

Grimes used the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data instead of the BLS Current Employment Statistics data because the former takes into account income like stock options, profit-sharing and signing bonuses, giving a better idea of an area's real income levels. 

The impressive relative wage growth is a rare bit of positive economic news in Flint, which has seen its real estate market tumble in the wake of the recent water crisis. 2015 census data also showed Flint to be among the country's poorest cities.