Jefferson North Flourishes Amid a Shrinking Detroit

For the better part of the 20th century, Detroit was one of the largest cities in America. Almost half of the workers in the city held manufacturing positions, and more than a quarter produced motor vehicles. Today, most of the auto manufacturing jobs that remain in the Detroit area have moved outside of the city itself and Jefferson North is the only remaining auto assembly plant located entirely within Detroit.

Published Dec. 12, 2013

Fewer People, Empty Homes

Although employment at Jefferson North has more than tripled to 4,500 workers since reopening in 2009, residents in the eastern Detroit neighborhoods surrounding the plant still face an area in decline.

According to analysis of U.S. Census data by Kurt Metzger, a demographic expert and founder of Data Driven Detroit, the number of residents near the plant who work in manufacturing declined 89 percent from 1960 to 2010. During that same period, the total population of the area declined 58 percent.

Changes to the eastern Detroit neighborhoods surrounding Jefferson North

Total residents

Employed in manufacturing

Number of housing units

Vacant homes

Percentage of residents with manufacturing jobs

Two out of every five people in eastern Detroit were employed in manufacturing positions in 1960, about 58,000 residents. By 2010, manufacturing jobs had fallen to 6,453, or 12.9 percent of all jobs.

Percentage of homes that are vacant

Almost one in four of the remaining homes in the area is vacant. City officials are working with the federal government to demolish the abandoned homes, which often become havens for drug activity and prostitution.

Empty lots surround the remaining homes in a Detroit neighborhood blocks away from the Jefferson North plant. Photo via Bing Maps

Sources: Kurt Metzger, Data Driven Detroit; Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Census Bureau; Bloomberg reporting