will new census data change perceptions about ypsilanti

A few years ago, the U.S. Census Bureau introduced what’s called the American Community Survey (ACS), which is a rolling demographic survey meant to augment the ten-year census we’re all accustomed to.
The 2005-2007 ACS data was just released, and there are a few welcome surprises concerning Ypsilanti.

SURPRISE ONE: The city’s population goes up – from 22,362 in 2000 to 22,546 in 05-07. That’s a three year average, and there’s some margin of error, but the important thing is that it’s not plummeting.

SURPRISE TWO: Median household income goes up 22% from 2000. That’s better than Ann Arbor, at 11%, Pittsfield, at 8%, or Ypsi Township, at 4%.

SURPRISE THREE: Percent of the population living below the poverty line goes down 4%. Ann Arbor, Pittsfield, Ypsi Township – all have their poverty rates go up. (Ann Arbor’s +26%. Pittsifield, +21%, Ypsi Township +63%.)

SURPRISE FOUR: Percent of the population with a college degree goes up 18% from 2000. (Ann Arbor +5%. Pittsfield +8%. Ypsi Township +13%.)

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  1. Charlie G.
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never commented on this site after lurking for a year or two, but will take this chance to correct you in my first post! Ha, ha. FYI, the American Community Survey has been around for awhile. While ACS has the most recent data, the once a decade census can give you information down to the block level, where as ACS is for larger geographic units like cities, etc. The census is constitutionally mandated, but I’m sure there are calls to change / replace it given modern technology.

  2. mark
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    And it only took about five minutes for you to fall into my trap, Charlie… God, I’m good.

  3. Brackache
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    And I will take this opportunity to kill the buzz by pointing out that 2008 will probably significantly bummerize all four pleasant 2000-2005/07 surprises.

  4. mark
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    In the interest of full disclosure, there was some bad news in the numbers as well… The following comes from the Ann Arbor News:

    …Median monthly homeowner costs jumped 35.5 percent to $1,855 per month in Ann Arbor. The increase in Ypsilanti was 64 percent, to $1,659…

  5. mark
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Brackache, I hesitate to think about the metrics of the future… cannibals per square mile, etc.

  6. egpenet
    Posted December 9, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Can you say … gentrification? It’s a big word, I know, but try.

    Arts and entrepreneurship, and fabulously low housing prices.

    Welcome all!

    And Beezy’s is open!

  7. Brackache
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Cannibal holocaust is more of a 2009/10 issue, and if the completely fictional movies are to be believed, it usually peaks right at the onset, quickly burning itself out. I expect 2011-15 to be pretty lean years for cannibals, but hey, that’s the ebb and flow of market forces for ya. No bailouts for cannibals!

  8. Posted December 10, 2008 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    I think cannibals per square mile will be one of the estimated measures. They look at how many canvassers they sent out to a certain area, and how many of those were ever heard from again, and come up with their estimates from there.

  9. Posted December 10, 2008 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    “As if the steady drumbeat of recent bad economic news weren’t enough,”

    I like that the News has no pre-existing narrative or spin that they’re shoving the data into.

    I think it’s notable that Ypsi’s population is holding steady reasonably steady, and various economic indicators improving over the 7 year period. It certainly doesn’t jive with the popular account of abandonment and tumbleweeds that I’ve heard since I moved into town. (SEMCOG’s estimates, for example, show a 1,400 person population loss in that time period.)

    Everybody’s numbers are going to take a beating in the next year or two, of course – I’m glad to have these numbers for a comparison point.

  10. nammeroo
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    …ahhhh….finally! ..evidence that our dark and secret plan is working……..

  11. mepatrickyounot
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Well, if the gov’t can’t subsidize a little cannibalism for Pete’s sakes, then I guess count me as an anarchist, or antichrist, I forget the exact word.

  12. Brackache
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    mepatrickyounot: the problem always goes back to one question: where’s the money going to come from.

    I understand the hardships that we cannibals are going to endure once we’ve over consumed our resources, but to subsidize our greed and poor resource management skills with government “cheese” is not only unsustainable in the long run, but I believe immoral. People who’ve made the choice to hole up in some secure retreat somewhere, terrified of being eaten are going to be burdened with paying for our safety net. And by the time we’ll need it, there just won’t be many taxable prey humans left, so we’ll have to borrow the money from China or Russia (which our undevoured progeny will have to pay back one day), or just have the fed print more up to throw at us, which eventually will lead to inflation once it trickles down to everyone else (I know we’re more life deflation right now, but in the long term inflation is inevitable).

    But the basic problem (the unsustainability of over-consumption of people) will not have been solved by the bailout. In fact, it will no doubt be encouraged; as the old saying goes, if you subsidize something, you get more of it. So sure, a cannibal bailout may stave off the deserved results of our bad decision making, but we can’t escape it forever. The longer we put it off, the more painful it will be. I say this as someone who will also be negatively affected by the upcoming cannibal depopulation crisis, so I’m not just some heartless, eat-your-leather-bootstraps sort of Mr. Burns type of guy. It’s a matter of principle and long-term risk/benefit assessment.

  13. Paw
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    It may not be cannibal holocaust, but a massive correction of some kind has to come. My guess is that it will find us in the form of the flu. It will be devastating, but ultimately good for the planet. And the alternative would be worse.

    As for the new census data, my guess is that people aren’t pulling themselves out of poverty so much the poor are leaving and being replaced by people with more solid finances. In other words, gentrification. But it was probably just a blip, quickly brought to an end by the current events we’re living through. Poverty will inevitably rise.

  14. Kazoo
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Uhhhh, I live in Ypsi Twp and can assure you that 63% of the poulation does not live below the poverty line. ACS is horribly skewed.

  15. Posted December 11, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I look at these and see young white people pushing Ypsi residents out of the city, i.e. gentrification. Is that a good thing? I suppose it depends on who you ask, but I doubt it’s much fun for folks who have to leave due to rising home prices, ridiculous property taxes and joblessness.

    People like to look at data like this and say that the average family has seen a rise in income, but what’s really happened is that poor people have left.

    I am surprised that Ypsi only has 20K. The taxes there seem absurd for a town of that size. I had always assumed that Ypsi was bigger.

  16. Posted December 11, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Kazoo: Percent of the population living below the poverty line was up 63%. If (just to make up numbers) 1% of the population was below the poverty line, and it went up to 1.63% below the poverty line, that’s a 63% increase.

  17. Posted December 11, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I just realized that Paw said exactly what I did. My apologies. I eagerly await the cannibal holocaust.

    Mostly when people talk of disease saving the world from the humans, they don’t think it will happen to them. Believe me, all of our lives will suck if there’s a flu pandemic, just as life sucks for more than half the world’s population right at this present moment due to malaria, leishmaniasis, HIV, dengue, worms and a host of other diseases that we never see here in the evil US.

    I think that the viewpoint that disease is good for the world is rather naive. While disease is inevitable, it suggests two things, 1) that people have not suffered from disease up until this point and 2) that doing something about it is worthless and not in the best interest of the squirrels. Believe me, there are plenty of ways of improving humanities public health and reducing our drain on world resources.

    I still await the cannibal holocaust.

  18. West Cross is the Best Cross
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Gotta agree with dude on the disease issue, I had the same thought reading Paw’s comment.

    For some reason I doubt “it’s good for the planet” will bring much solace for the dead and dying. And the reward for surving: millions of corpses to clean up. Guess that’s where the cannibals come in….

  19. Kazoo
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Gotcha CMadler. My mistake. Either way, I’m just biding my time until I can get out of the abyss that is Ypsi and into A2. Proper is a dump, its not full of character, its full of crap.

    Anyone who says otherwise it dillusional, or simply won’t admit that they can’t afford A2.

  20. KM
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Hate to burst your bubble, oh great and mighty Kazoo, but a lot of us live in Ypsi because we love it, and not because we can’t afford Ann Arbor. At least that’s the case in the City. Maybe it’s true where you are, in the Township, though.

  21. Kazoo
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Ok KM. If you like it you like it. Won’t argue with you there. Do you have children though? Because if you are sending them through YPS or WRPS, you might want to re-think that Ypsi pride.

  22. roots
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to echo KM here. Ypsilanti is one of very few places I even considered when making my most recent move. I love where I live. I lived in Ann Arbor for five years and I still chose Ypsi. (And, thanks for the assumption, but it wasn’t a matter of cost.) Both are great towns, they’re just different.

  23. mepatrickyounot
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Disease is a big deal, but don’t forget war. We love our resources, and instead of using them a little more wisely, we just rather bomb the hell out of people who have more and better access to resources.
    Dude, nobody said we should not do something about disease; at least not in this thread. Yes, technology helps, but let’s face it. When people attack Malthusian calcualtions, they only say that he was wrong about what technology can do for the human situation. Okay, so technology is a factor, but the fundamentals of Malthus remain just as relevant now as they were in his day.
    But you are right, dude, better to go do something than sit around and theorize while people are dying of disease.
    By the way, who said HIV is not rampant here in the US? Do you remember during the 2004 Vice Presidential debate when the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney was forced to admit that he did not know that AIDS was actually “epidemic” among African American women? Let’s not run over the same ground time and again.
    Footnote: “Epidemic” was their word not mine. I don’t even know how to define the word.

  24. passing through
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Does the increase in people with college degrees living here indicate the area is on an upswing, or that more college graduates live in poverty/ can’t afford better?

    and yes I live here, and yes I suspect the latter.

  25. passing through
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised that Ypsi only has 20K. The taxes there seem absurd for a town of that size. I had always assumed that Ypsi was bigger.

    “that” size

    so, to me this implies that you do not live here.

    Most people “in the region” attribute a very large are to Ypsi (and the problems of that area) that just are not due it.

    This is less than 4.5 sq. miles, of which almost 40% are churches and EMU (not residential land– EMU has almost no dorms, speaking in terms of population). 3 miles. That’s not even a good jog. Leaving out the “square” part (this only makes sense if you have basic math skills).

    Who the f*** is supposed to pay for anything? (re your comment on taxes)

    We need to 1) rename this city 2) invade and conquer the subdivisions to the N (the township to the E can have itself, since it likes itself “that way”).

  26. Mark H.
    Posted December 11, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    EMU has plenty of dorms, with, if I recall correctly, several thousand students living in them during the fall and winter semesters. Not sure of the immediate relevance of that, but it is a mistake to say EMU “has almost no dorms”, Passing Through.

    in fact, i think the city’s political wards have boundaries that were determined in part by allocating the EMU campus to ward 3, giving it the large student population, which is not of course likely to vote in city elections.

    EMU & Ypsilanti — one city, one university, one common future.

  27. Pete Murdock
    Posted December 12, 2008 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Mark H is correct. There are several dorms and university housing units at EMU. They use to comprise about 3,000 residents (included in the City’s total population). It may be less now. Most of the University dormitories and housing actually are in Ward 2 – the west side ward. The ward I represent – ward three – has four dorms and Brown-Munson.

    Prior to the Charter change of 1995, the City had five wards,one of which was comprised mainly of University dormitories and housing. The City elections were held in February(primary) and April (General) and were stand alone elections. Student interest and participation in City elections was greater then because school was in session when the elections were held, a student could be elected to the City Council -and many were, and voter registration rules then made it easier and more likely for students to register to vote at the jurisdictions they lived in while attending school.

    The election of November 2008, saw the greatest registration and voter participation by students since the new Charter took effect. The two student dominated precincts voted for Obama 6 to 1 and 12 to 1 over McCain and one of the precints had 69% of it’s registered voters vote – the highest participation rate of any City precinct.

  28. egpenet
    Posted December 12, 2008 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I very much like Prof. Mark’s tagline … One City, One University, One Common Future.

    How do we get the Chamber, VCB, City Government, our two DDAs, the Depot Town Merchants, and the downtown D.A.Y. to come up with something like that to help characterize the City to visitors, as for ourselves, as well?

    While we have distinct areas within the City with their own walkability and unique “brands” … Downtown … Depot Town … EMU Campus/University Village/Cross Street … looking forward in time how do we pull all of that together to market this City and its new directions?

    “The City That Works” … may be true … but it doesn’t say who WE are.

    All of these many elements mentioned above, plus residents and others, will be coming together in active Blueprint Committees in January to begin this process.

    To find out how critical this issue is for business and economic development, ie. jobs in Ypsilanti … Google Ypsilanti and report back if you can find a clear and coherent statement that really nails who we are and what makes us unique.

    Unrelated … Thanks to the Republicans this factory will self-destruct in 15 seconds.

  29. maryd
    Posted December 12, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Kazoo says
    “Ok KM. If you like it you like it. Won’t argue with you there. Do you have children though? Because if you are sending them through YPS or WRPS, you might want to re-think that Ypsi pride.” What total crap.

    How little you know Kazoo, you show ignorance, with your re-think. From a mother of 5, the last one graduating from YPS in 2009. Yes us poor folks are managing to educate our kids too, just fine.

  30. Posted December 12, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Ypsi would be OK if it were a super deal in property taxes. As it stands, it’s a dump given how much you guys have to pay. There are better places (and schools) for much less money.

    Not ripping on Ypsi, but I don’t think it’s worth the price.

  31. Kazoo
    Posted December 12, 2008 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    RE: MaryD

    Look, I’m not trying to say people don’t do well or like Ypsi, but the fact is it is a shitty town compared to A2. This is evident by lower test scores, graduation rates, poverty levels, economy, crime (yes, crime per capita) home prices, school athletics, and the list goes on and on.

    This can’t even be argued. Now, yes Ypsi does have character and pride and no its not as bad as people think, but people also need to appreciate it for what it is, instead of what it isn’t.

    And trust me, I say all this as an Ypsi resident.

  32. egpenet
    Posted December 12, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink


    Love that!

    I wrote earlier about the need for a “brand,” well, this is a start. Gets us pretty far away from “The City That Works” … and it’s in the right direction, too.

    We’re “shifty” here because the government “shifted” their social services operations here and we went through several “busts” with factories and our working men and women have suffered greatly. We’re working on all of that by “shifting” one more time to get new businesses and arts and entertianment downtown. I LIKE the progress, Kazoo. ‘Bout you?

    How’bout this … grab hold of the rearview mirror in your head and yank it off of the windshield surround so you can see forward better. Drive a little faster, keep your eyes ahead and the past won’t bite you in the butt so much.


  33. Old Goat
    Posted December 14, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Let me see now, AA has Klan Rallies, Naked Mile, Hash Bash, Sno-emergency routes (means: no plow your street sucker), and a few other similar and wonderful things which I can’t remember at present. So all hair A-squared, the champions of the rest!

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