At a Glance: Understanding the Detroit Bankruptcy

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On Thursday evening, the city of Detroit declared bankruptcy. But what does that mean for the city, its people, and its workers?


  • Income tax revenues for the city have fallen 30 percent in the last decade
  • The cost of maintaining the city grew substantially - increased fires and crime were burden to police and firefighters of the city
  • Detroit’s population has declined 26 percent since 2000 (in the 1950s, the city's peak years, the population was at 1.85 million - now at 706,000)
  • The city's unemployment rate is 18.6% - fewer than half of the city's residents older than 16 are working
  • Dysfunctional governance was a large factor in the downfall
  • Detroit owes its creditors $18.5 billion, including $3.5 billion in pension costs
Source: The Washington Post

The economic downfall of Detroit does not affect all employment sectors. In the spring, the majority of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) in Detroit said they are feeling “optimistic” about their business prospects for the third quarter, and 93% expressed confidence in their company’s upcoming growth, according to a recent report from Robert Half International.

In addition, Detroit’s Big Three have all announced large hiring initiatives for hourly workers this year, according to The Detroit News. Hiring for Detroit auto companies has risen steadily since it bottomed out in 2009.

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