University of Michigan researchers are digging into the causes driving employment trends in Detroit. Chief among them, according to recent results from a new survey, is uncertainty surrounding child care and schooling and increased desire for better working conditions.
According to the findings of the Detroit Metro Area Communities Study, a representative survey of nearly 2,000 Detroit households, approximately 25 percent of parents in the city left the labor force in the past year, citing concerns over the safety and stability of child care and schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the other hand, the survey also found over 90 percent of unemployed Detroiters were actively seeking work, and the majority of those who had quit a job in the last year did so to find new, better positions, commonly expressing a desire to find positions that offered better pay, hours, and dignity.
Lydia Wileden, a Ph.D. candidate in the joint U-M sociology and public policy doctoral program, is a research associate involved in the study. Wileden is also a past recipient of a Rackham Public Scholarship Grant.
“You can definitely point to problems with child care, general uncertainty about how to keep their family safe and uncertainty around schooling,” she said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “It also speaks to a changing culture around work and people pursuing jobs that are better. These examples tell a vivid story of how people’s priorities and willingness to prioritize themselves as workers has shifted over COVID.”