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Report: Income inequality a growing issue in Washtenaw Co.

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A new report from the University of Michigan-Dearborn finds more than a third of Washtenaw County workers don't earn enough to meet basic needs such as food and housing.

That's in spite of job growth in recent years. 

The study found that from 2005 to 2013, Washtenaw County saw a 23% increase in jobs requiring high levels of education or technical skill sets, while industrial jobs decreased by 31 percent.

Median wages fell across the board, but workers earning the least saw the greatest decline in their income.

David Reynolds is with  the Labor Studies Center at U of M Dearborn. He said prosperity must be shared in order to be sustained. 

"Regions that have greater equality tend to over the long term, have more and more sustainable growth," he said. "Those that become more and more unequal head for trouble in the future.”

The report says the "knowledge-based" jobs that made up 40% of all jobs in Washtenaw County in 2013 have not helped to improve overall economic equality.

Ypsilaniti Mayor Amanda Edmonds said she's happy to see the issue of economic inequality being addressed on a county-wide level.

“It’s a problem with our whole system," she said. "Our system is allowing for some people to fall and a very few people to rise up.”

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