Study finds West Michigan cities have among worst standard of living for Black women

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A new report ranks Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids near the bottom on a list of U.S. cities where Black women are more likely to be more economically empowered and thriving.

MoneyGeek, a personal finance technology company, released a report last week on the best and worst cities in the U.S. for Black women based on local wage gaps, poverty levels, safety, education, homeownership and health coverage.

Researchers found suburban cities of big metropolitan areas scored the highest. Southfield, outside of Detroit, is No. 1; New Rochelle, a suburb of New York City; and Missouri City, a suburb of Houston, ranked second and third highest.

Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, however, ranked at No. 167 and No. 192, respectively, out of 200 cities on the ranking.

Detroit ranked 78th, Flint ranked 100th and Lansing ranked 124th.


To determine the rankings, MoneyGeek analyzed data from the American Community Survey, MoneyGeek’s Safest Cities and Safest Small Cities and Towns studies, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Researchers started with over 600 cities in America with populations of 65,000 or more. Places without granular data about Black women or lacking other data points for the analysis were removed, leading to a final set of 200 cities.

The ranking was based on eight factors: safety, Black population, educational attainment, poverty rates, income (including the date of Black women’s Equal Pay Day by city), employment, health insurance and homeownership. Each factor was weighted equally, and cities were ranked from 100 (best) to zero (worst).

Local disparities in pay between white men and Black women mean local Equal Pay Days for Black women — the date on which the average Black woman’s pay equals the amount the average white man earned the previous year — are different in cities across the country. In Southfield, Equal Pay Day is March 31, 2021. In Lansing, it’s June 16; Westland, July 25; Flint, July 30; Grand Rapids, Aug. 17; Detroit, Oct. 14; Warren, Nov. 28; and in Kalamazoo, it would take until Jan. 5, 2022, for the average Black woman’s pay to catch up to what the average white man earned in 2020.

The Equal Pay Day for each city is available in the full data set at the end of the study.

The study also includes commentary from Black female experts on what factors are important, policy advice and what resources Black women can leverage to empower themselves.

Best cities for Black women

  1. Southfield
  2. New Rochelle, New York
  3. Missouri City, Texas
  4. Alexandria, Virginia
  5. Pembroke Pines, Florida
  6. Inglewood, California
  7. Fairfield, California
  8. Sandy Springs, Georgia
  9. Rancho Cucamonga, California
  10. Grand Prairie, Texas

Worst cities for Black women

  1. Abilene, Texas
  2. Kalamazoo
  3. North Little Rock, Arkansas
  4. Boynton Beach, Florida
  5. Allentown, Pennsylvania
  6. Pompano Beach, Florida
  7. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  8. Gulfport, Mississippi
  9. Miami, Florida
  10. Corpus Christi, Texas

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