Map of Detroit

Preliminary results of 2018 population study are in

Stable. That’s the word the demographer uses to describe Metro Detroit’s overall Jewish population, which stands at 71,750, according to the 2018 Detroit Jewish Population Study: A Portrait of the Detroit Jewish Community, funded by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. The last study, done in 2005, pegged the Jewish population at 71,500.

Federation enlisted the services of Ira Sheskin, the principal architect and investigator of the 2005 Detroit Jewish Population Study and its 2010 update. The Population Study survey, conducted early this year, was given to 1,200 Jewish people called randomly. More than 340,000 calls were made during the survey to arrive at the overall Jewish population projection.

The Federation provided the JN an overview of the initial results.

Findings revealed that 83,000 people lived in 31,500 Jewish households, up 1,500 from 2005. Of those people, 12,460 were not Jewish.

Metro Detroit has the 26th largest Jewish community in America, down from No. 21 in 2005, similar in size to Dallas and Las Vegas. While 80 percent of the Jewish community remains in its core area: West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Oak Park, Farmington Hills, Southfield and Huntington Woods, there has been a shift away from West Bloomfield and Farmington Hills toward Huntington Woods, which is now 65 percent Jewish.

Despite a perceived increase in the number of Jewish young adults moving into the city of Detroit, the number of Jewish households within the city decreased by about 1,100 compared to 2005, Sheskin said. “But 27 percent of the population works in either Detroit or Dearborn, meaning that population could be served by lunchtime programming,” he said.

About 220 Jewish households are moving in each year, up slightly from 2005, and about 100 households move out each year. On a positive note, according to Sheskin, is that 62 percent of Jews in Metro Detroit were born and grew up here, making them more likely to stay. Eighty-one percent of survey respondents said they were not planning to move in the coming year. “There should be no significant change as a result of migration in the coming years,” Sheskin said. “But the population is certainly not going to grow.”

PORTRAIT OF JEWISH FAMILIES

  • There are 13,000 Jewish children (ages 0-17) living in Metro Detroit, many in the 15-19 age bracket. “There are a lot fewer 10- to 14-year-olds, which will mean an adjustment for day schools,” Sheskin said.
  • The number of children living in Jewish households is down compared to 2005, when there were 17,000 children.
  • About 25,400 people older than 65 live in the area, of which 7,600 are older than 75. While the number of older adults is up, fewer older adults are living alone compared to 2005.
  • The number of young adults ages 18-34 is 19,100, up from 9,400 in 2005 — a 103 percent increase.
  • More than half (57 percent) of adults in Jewish households are married; 39 percent of Jewish adults are single, more than half of whom are under age 35. “In 1989, 61 percent of Jewish adults under 35 were married. Today, that number is 17 percent,” Sheskin said. “This means Jewish adults are waiting longer to have children, having fewer children and joining synagogues later in life.”
  • Eighteen percent of married Jews are intermarried, and 44 percent of the children in those households are being raised Jewishly, with an additional 17 percent being raised as part Jewish. This is an increase from 2005, when only 31 percent of children in these households were being raised Jewishly.
  • A quarter of all Jewish households have children younger than 17 at home; this is down from 2005 while the number of households with adult children living at home is up; 7 percent of children live in single parent households; and 37 percent of children up to age 12 live in households where both parents (or one parent if a single household) work. Twenty percent of children live in a household where an adult was or is divorced.
  • More than three-quarters of adults older than 25 have a four-year college degree or higher — above average compared to other U.S. Jewish communities, according to Sheskin. Forty-four percent are employed full time.
  • According to the study, about 5 percent of the Jewish population identifies as LGBT.
  • The 2017 median household income of Jewish households is $107,000: 53 percent earn more than $100,000; 8 percent are low-income (less than $25,000); and 2 percent live below the federal poverty level.
  • Ninety-nine percent of survey respondents said they are proud to be Jewish.
  • Nine percent of Metro Detroit Jews are Orthodox; 20 percent are Conservative; 2 percent are Reconstructionist; 35 percent are Reform; 4 percent are Jewish Humanist and 31 percent are “just Jewish” — up from 18 percent in 2005. Five percent of the community are Jews By Choice, up from 3 percent in 2005.
  • About a quarter of Jews attend synagogue at least once a month, while 31 percent never attend. Synagogue membership is down to 39 percent compared to 52 percent in 2005.
  • As for religious practice, 69 percent have a mezuzah on the front door; 74 percent of households celebrate Passover; 71 percent celebrate Chanukah; and 73 percent observe Shabbat in some way. Nineteen percent keep a kosher home and 13 percent keep kosher in and out of the home. Twenty-five percent of Jewish households put up a Christmas tree.
  • Politically, 51 percent of survey respondents were Democrat, 15 percent Republican and 34 percent Independent. Nearly all, 96 percent, are registered to vote and 94 percent voted in the last election.

In coming weeks, the JN will delve into the results of the 2018 population study, looking specifically at education, Jewish continuity, synagogue membership and engagement, social service needs of the community, Israel advocacy and philanthropy.

Jackie Headapohl Managing Editor