It’s widely reported that Dan Gilbert’s Quicken Loans has 3,100 employees that now live in the city of Detroit, up from 77 in 2010. But what does that actually mean on the ground?

Usually, the focus of conversation is on the big buildings and physical projects. But in many ways, the long term impact is with the employees. They’re the ones finding places to live, getting groceries, buying drinks, all of that.

Let’s break down the numbers.

According to, the average Quicken Loans salary is $40,000. Their sample size is more than 500 reports; obviously, there will be people who make more or less, but it’s a good place to start, and it’s third party data.

The take-home pay on that after taxes, using the ADP calculator (rounded) is $29,071 after Federal, State and City taxes. It’s admittedly a rough number – on a case by case basis, individual situations will affect that number.

From here, the math is pretty simple. If you take the wages of 3,100 employees averaging take-home pay of $29,071, that’s about $87 million every year that wasn’t in the local economy in 2010, taking into account the 77 employees in the city back then.

There’s also city’s cut, as there’s a resident income tax here. We can’t add in property tax receipts as we don’t know how many people bought properties, but we do know that if they’re residents of the city they should be paying the Detroit city income tax. At 2.4%, that works out to about $960 per person – or, the 3,100 Quicken employee residents account for about $2,976,000 to the city coffers each year, if everyone’s reporting correctly. Even more, if Gilbert’s prediction of 2,000 more moving to the city if they could, comes true.

Context is what makes these numbers interesting

The average household income in Detroit is $25,769 as of the latest census numbers. Obviously, these folks are making more than the average Detroiter.

But compared to the region, they’re not that well off. These new residents, using the $40,000 average, actually make less than the average Metro Detroiter – the 2014 Detroit/Livonia/Dearborn statistical area’s average is $50,550; go to the other statistical area in the region of Warren/Troy/Farmington Hills it’s $47,290.

So while they’re often rated as “happy” and a “best place to work,” Quicken employees aren’t making the regional average.

Also, from a development perspective, projects like the new micro-apartments going up on Griswold that cost $700-$800 a month make a lot more sense when you look at the actual pay of the folks being employed.

Mix that with the idea that most of them, according to Gilbert, want to live near work.

“Gilbert … told the audience of several hundred that his decision to move his headquarters from the suburbs to downtown was motivated by the need to attract young recruits who wanted an urban experience.

He recalled one particular job candidate he interviewed at his office in Livonia overlooking a lot of concrete roadway. The young man said he didn’t want to work in a place where there was nothing to see and that required him to drive everywhere.”

If taking a bike, mass transit, or walking to work is in fact the primary or a primary preference of new residents, unless the neighborhoods of Detroit see major investment around reliable mass transit it could be a long time until there’s a major influx of people in the more far-flung neighborhoods, especially those not on the Woodward corridor, if those jobs are mostly in the 7.2 miles that is greater downtown Detroit.

It’s not a boom

The other thing the number show is that compared to other cities around the country, we’re nowhere near a true “boom” in Detroit, even though to many it feels like it if you look in select places.


What Detroit’s population is doing is shifting and trying to stabilize as far as total population. Mayor Mike Duggan said in his state of the city address that the best plan is to “grow the city.” And that’s possible.

The city of Charlotte has added 78,534 residents since 2010, and they’re not even the fastest growing in the country (they’re third in that category, behind Austin, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana). That Charlotte number shows you that it is totally possible for a city to become “hot” and see fast growth.

But when you look at the data, it’s going to take a lot more than just what Dan Gilbert does, as big of an impact as he and his companies have, to make Detroit’s comeback whole.

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