An alarming study shows a large number of people in Michigan struggle to make ends meet.
The study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State and Urban Policy, also looks at what needs are not being met.
The study broke the state into six regions, with the Lansing and Jackson area grouped in the Southwest Lower Peninsula region. Local leaders were surveyed on needs in their communities, with possible answers of “Not needed in our community at all,” “There are needs, but most or all are being met,” “Some unmet needs,” “Significant unmet needs,” and “Don’t know.”
One of largest problems in the Southwest Lower Peninsula region involves drug treatement programs. According to the study, 28 percent of leaders say there are some unmet needs, while 19 percent say there are significant unmet needs.
Affordable housing was also an issue in the region, with 38 percent saying some unmet needs.
While the unemployment rate was at 4 percent as of December 2018, Tom Ivacko, the Associate Director for Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, says that number is misleading.
“Although we’ve achieved what many people consider to be full employment in Michigan, that misses a lot of people who are simply not looking for work,” he said. “A lot of the jobs that people have are not paying enough to help them try to overcome economic hardship.”
In addition, 31 percent in the Southwest Lower Peninsula region say there are some unmet needs related to access to emergency housing, such as homeless and domestic violence shelters.
Researchers say they are all problems with no easy answers.
“I think any kind of solutions are gonna have to be multi-faceted,” Ivacko said.
Researchers added poverty in our state ranks in the bottom half of the nation, sitting at 35. Fourteen percent of people are below the poverty level, meaning a family of four that makes less than $25,000.
Ivacko says it will take a team effort to solve the problems, as many smaller communities do not have the resources necessary.
“They need more help. They need other parts of society. They need non-profits, schools, more help from state government and other organizations that are trying to help people” he said.