Detroit Metro Area Communities Study on COVID-19 draws national attention

April 28, 2020

A rapid-response Detroit Metro Area Communities Study (DMACS) survey found that 1 in 5 Detroiters will run out of money due to the COVID-19 crisis within the next three months.

The DMACS survey asked wide-ranging questions from economic, social, and physical concerns regarding COVID-19. “The DMACS survey results show Detroiters are not only concerned for their health but also their economic well-being during this pandemic,” said Jeffrey Morenoff, one of the faculty research leads for DMACS and director of the Population Studies Center at U-M’s Institute for Social Research. “We hope early insights into how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting Detroiters can help inform policy responses that directly address the community’s needs.”

The survey found that Detroiters prioritize continued cash assistance, stay-at-home orders, and increased health care access during the pandemic response. It also highlights significant disparities in the city.

“The survey results show racial disparities in who has the financial means to weather this crisis as well as who is able to socially isolate and alter their work activities to help prevent the coronavirus spread,” said Lydia Wileden, a doctoral candidate at U-M who analyzed the DMACS COVID-19 survey data.

You can read the full Poverty Solutions news release and study findings here.


Morenoff and Wileden discuss what their findings mean for inequality in this Bridge MI opinion article.


The survey results caught national attention, including being featured in the following outlets:

Associated Press: In Detroit, grief runs deep as city grapples with COVID-19

Newsweek: Nearly 50 percent of Detroit residents say they’ll be broke within 3 months under Michigan coronavirus lockdown

WXYZ Detroit: 1 in 5 Detroiters will be out of money in 3 months because of COVID-19

Detroit Metro Times: Half of Detroiters fear they'll run out of money within 3 months because of coronavirus lockdown, survey shows


Since 2016, the University of Michigan’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study has used a city-wide survey to help bridge the gap between Detroit officials and residents whose voices may not always be heard in public discussions. Completed by a representative sample of more than 1,200 Detroiters, the ongoing DMACS survey provides valuable insights on the perceptions and attitudes of people who live and work in Detroit.