Local income gap?

Nicole of Grand Haven asked, “Why is there such a large income gap between Grand Haven and Muskegon?
Mark Brooky
May 2, 2014


“That is a really complicated question,” said Joy Gaasch, president of the Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven-Spring Lake-Ferrysburg.

Factors that affect income levels include the area’s rate of unemployment, available jobs in the community (remember Sappi was a large employer in Muskegon until it closed in 2009), rate of pay at jobs, number of individuals on fixed incomes such as retirees and public assistance, and the commuting patterns of residents. 

The income levels for individuals are reported in their county of residence, yet a higher percentage of folks from Ottawa County commute to Grand Rapids for jobs than folks from Muskegon County, Gaasch explained, and that is why Ottawa County is now in the Grand Rapids/Wyoming metropolitan statistical area for data reporting. So, there is no quick and easy answer, she said.

“In comparing income levels of communities, it has become a little more difficult as people choose where to reside for many different reasons,” Gaasch said. “Since there are now typically two wage earners per family, Northwest Ottawa County may be a central location if one person works in Muskegon and another works in Ottawa or Kent County.”

Here’s some statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 estimates to consider:

— County median household income: Ottawa, $55,760; Muskegon, $40,843; Kent, $51,303; Michigan, $48,471.

— Median household income in Northwest Ottawa County municipalities: City of Grand Haven, $42,142; Grand Haven Township, $69,850; Spring Lake Village, $49,318; Spring Lake Township, $52,542; Ferrysburg, $43,627.

— Median household income in Muskegon County municipalities: Muskegon, $26,686; Muskegon Heights, $20,362; North Muskegon, $56,000; Norton Shores, $49,299; Roosevelt Park, $42,069; Fruitport, $50,045.

— Per-capita income: Ottawa County, $25,359; Muskegon County, $20,463.
— Percentage of population below the poverty level: Ottawa County, 10.5; City of Grand Haven, 13.0; Muskegon County, 19.5; City of Muskegon, 34.3; Muskegon Heights, 47.9; Michigan, 16.3.

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It's the bottom of the 9th with two outs and the bases are loaded.(Wings on first, TCR on second, and Dyankee on 3rd) 3-0 count to Vladtheimp. Hereeeee’s the pitch, it’s a hanging curve ball right over the plate-oh my garsh, do you believe in miracles? He swings....

Barry Soetoro

B. Soetoro is available to pinch hit if needed...

Barry Soetoro

Oh... And he hasn't been drinking. Yet.


Lol...now that thar is funny!

Hope the mercy rule on the game allow us to count the next 4 runs!

I'll get back to the commentary game after the crowd roar settles down!


Gee, this is cute, you old guys pretending to be baseball players. The sorry truth of the matter is that Wing would pick a fight with the ref because the ref looked at him cross-eyed, TCR would get sidetracked over measuring the base, and finding it unsatisfactory, badger the baseman; dyankee would start a conversation with himself and totally zone out, Vlad would hit it out of the park and be so enamored with his muscularity he'd put down the bat and go pour himself a double dram. And Barry would start making hand signals with the prettiest girl in the stands.


And Lanivan would hold court on the sidelines, shaking the pom poms and chanting "Rah, Rah, Siscum Bah, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and Carney, Rah, Rah, Rah. (I'm jealous of Barry, who apparently has eyes for other than his betrothed) http://www.google.com/imgres?img...


You've used this image before - apparently, you and Barry have something in common. Ok - so I was a cheerleader once, what's it to you? Of course, that was in the days of Nixon, Magruder, Mitchell, Dean, Hunt, McCord, Liddy, Ehrlichman, Haldeman....

I note you didn't refute my caricatures of you or your peeps.....


Start a conversation with myself?? WAt? No, no, no, you have it all wrong Lanivan…..First of all, Wing doesn’t pick fights, he just finishes them. However, he’d probably engage in a heated debate with the first basemen over the 2nd Amendment explaining that it is to protect the people from an over-reaching government and not so much for placing his 12 gauge in a gun rack in his F-250. TCR….actually, you got that one right! lol Me? Shoot, I’d be asking the fans to not chant my name so loud ‘cause it’s distracting to Vladman with the bases jacked. Of course, Vlad would send this ball into the upper deck and provide a coincidental souvenir for GHT employee on their company outing night. After trotting the bases, he'd go back to the dugout and eat another energy bar without taking the wrapper off.

Lanivan, would be *itch slapping a ball park security guard because they are demanding you pour your Malbec in a cup versus the beautiful personalized Zalto Denk’Art wine stem glass you hid in your oversized sassy Kentucky Derby hat! They wouldn’t remove you from your box seats that were provided by a recent LEDA fund raiser ‘cause Barry Soetoro would come back just in the nic of time from chasing down your elephant ear and cotton candy to negotiate your way out of this near catastrophic situation.


WOT?! dyankee - you really have it all wrong, again! Basically, you just reiterated my remarks, until the last paragraph. 1. I'm a very nice person and wouldn't dream of drawing attention to myself by *itch slapping anyone, let alone a poor park security. 2. I wouldn't spend $60/wineglass no matter how wonderful the Malbec. (Now an Edinburgh Crystal "Thistle" shot/decanter set may possibly be another story) 3. The only stains you'll find on my Michigan Rag hoodie are mustard, grease drippings from hot dogs, and beer.

The rest is pretty close, tho.


lol....its' all good. Cheers!


Here's to mating turtles - skoal!


The drams and the images of you cheerleading for Nixon, Magruder, Mitchell, Dean, Hunt, McCord, Liddy, Ehrlichman, Haldeman temporarily addled me.


Actually, I should clarify, for accuracy's sake. I was a cheerleader for two years only, but opted out of try-outs in my senior year, as by then I was more interested in other pursuits during games (like actually watching the games, of course) than cheering for Nixon, Magruder, Mitchell, Dean, Hunt, McCord, Liddy, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman.

Love! the idea of you being addled, if only on a temporary basis!




The answer to the question is, as noted, complex, particularly since certain demographic and vital records are kept differently and by different entities.

I would answer the question by first noting that the proven ways to enter the middle class and avoid poverty are relatively simple: (1) graduate from high school; (2) marry before having children; and (3) get a job. Now, looking at some statistics:

High School Graduation rates: Grand Haven - 89.5%; Muskegon - 82%

Dropping out in high school: Grand Haven - 521; Muskegon - 2,984;

Currently Married: Grand Haven - 59.2% ; Muskegon - 30.8%

Teen Pregnancies: Ottawa (2011) - 24; Muskegon - 246

Unemployment: Grand Haven - 6.2% ; Muskegon 10.2%

Of course, many other factors go into the differential in the income rates; I personally believe one huge factor is how the residents value the work ethic versus a mentality that causes one to believe that he/she is entitled to live off the labors of their fellow citizens, who work and pay taxes, through government redistribution of wealth programs at the heart of the neo-Communist liberal/progressive philosophy. The only statistics I can give to reflect this dichotomy follow:

2008 Presidential Election Voting:

Muskegon - Obama - 63.73% ; Ottawa - Obama - 37.23%

2012 Presidential Election Voting:

Muskegon - Obama - 58.4% ; Ottawa - Obama - 32.5.7%


You are like a broken record that needs to be thrown out with the trash. Do you ever have anything to say that doesn't come back around to how Obama peed in your Cheerios? Do you realize you have no credibility outside your little group because you never have an independent thought? Really, "neo-Communist liberal/progressive philosophy" - hilarious!!


He made no reference in blaming Obama, it's the liberal/progressive movement that is at the core of his concern. If you omit his illustration on Muskegon voting history then, the remaining 95% of his post should be a enlightenment to you because Obama’s name is not even mentioned.

If you don’t agree with his thoughts then, please opine with your own, as throwing darts at an impaler is not a good career move. Actually, I agree with your credibility assessment….the entire State of Michigan is a mere 1 of 50 in this Country, he should be doing much better – hilarious!


If Obama "peed in my Cheerios" he and Jay Carney would be telling the world that global warming caused a unique condition resulting in a highly localized yellow rain.

Under Obama, income inequality has increased faster than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush, and is now at the highest level since the Census Department began recording data in 1947 - talk about breaking records!

Real estate maven

Hard to argue with your logic Vlad. Well said and on point.


Who wants to work in Muskegon when you can collect assistance and sit on the porch smokin' a blunt and drinkin' Colt 45 all day long.....


Can do that grand haven too.


Complicated question? Nope. Greed. CEO's and Vice Pres's making 6 to 7 figure incomes with bonuses as big as yearly incomes for the working class. Working people failing to stick together, failing to vote in their peers into various offices. Apathy among working people to actually stick together. Example would be some southern states - the people down there only want to work Mon-Tues and Wed. At noon Wednesday's a whole shop walks out the door to go fishing and be with family. NO unions, no contracts just sticking together despite managements threats to fire em all. Workers want higher wages? do the same here stick together - walk out, no need for union, no need for contracts. What do you think the "Chamber of Commerce" is ? It is the business owners/CEO's "union" and they stick together! What do they pay themselves? OK now. Problem exposed and solved.


for years migrant workers come from the south to pick blueberrys or whatever and seem content in there labor, however playing basketball and listening to rap music does not pay very well . . .


A major factor in declining incomes in Muskegon has to involve the exodus of manufacturing. For decades, Muskegon industry was a steady source of factory jobs in West Michigan, and attracted many people from both in and out of state. Beginning in the 80's and into the 2000's, the area began to see those main industries close, and unemployment insecurity increased.

As those industries closed, they left behind a lot of empty factories and polluted lakes and rivers. After decades of downtown redevelopment, renewal, ongoing environmental clean-up efforts, and the slow reversal of white flight from the downtown area, Muskegon is in a much better place, with employment slowly increasing.

The income disparity problem in Muskegon, as compared to Ottawa County, is, once again, a multi-faceted problem that requires a broader scope of thought than the typical and absurd blame game of neo-communism liberal progressivism, stereotyping and categorizing segments of Muskegon communities, or, of course, blaming Obama.


Strange - the main thrust of my comment was the proven ways for young people to ensure a middle class existence and avoid poverty, with some comparisons between Muskegon and Grand Haven (and Ottawa) to illustrate the differences between the two areas. I didn't blame Obama, I simply noted the "coincidence" of the voting results between the two areas.

I believe it's news to many that Grand Haven didn't have an "exodus of manufacturing"; that industry wasn't "a steady source of factory jobs" in Grand Haven" and that in the 80's into the 2000's Grand Haven didn't begin "to see those main industries close" leaving "a lot of empty factories" as well as polluted areas, like Brownfields.

Many communities in Michigan and in the Rust Belt in particular suffered those same problems - the question is how the communities reacted to the problems - and how some managed to prosper (like following the basic rules for avoiding poverty and following traditional American values of self-sufficiency, a good work ethic, and basic values), while others followed a different path.

It's insulting not to recognize that Grand Haven and Ottawa County didn't face the same challenges as Muskegon but for unmentioned reasons overcame many of those challenges.


1. I don't recall actually writing that you specifically were blaming Obama, although you are being disingenuous by suggesting your addition of Obama voting results was coincidental. Perhaps you are suggesting that the only people who vote for Obama are unemployed former factory workers? It might surprise you that many people voted for Obama who are not poor, unemployed people of color, disadvantaged, or had children out of wedlock.

2. Of course, Grand Haven experienced the loss of factory jobs, but not nearly to the extent as Muskegon, Muskegon being a much larger factory town, with 3x the population. You are, of course, attempting, rather clumsily, to steer my comment onto some odd course of dissing and/or insulting Grand Haven. I think it highly insulting you imply that Muskegon's problems are due to the fact that they did/do not follow traditional American values of self-sufficency, good work ethic, and basic values. That is one very aggressive stereotype, and, in defense of the many Muskegon residents I know personally, you might want to consider re-thinking that one.

Odd that the main thrust of my comment that the omission of the loss of industry as a main cause of income disparity in Muskegon should not be overlooked, should bring about a slippery slope of bigotry from you.

Speaking of self-sufficiency and Vladtheimp brings another little poem to mind:

Sufficiency - my fanciful!
My shimmy shirt and pants are full.


Does your poem explain your abandonment of cheer-leading in your shimmering outfit?

On the costs to a community (any community) of not following the basic rules for avoiding poverty or following traditional values:

Teen pregnancies cost Florida taxpayers $443 million, study says

"According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teens and their children are much more likely to have lower education, health and economic outcomes than those who wait to have children. As a result, taxpayers are on the hook for billions in related costs, according to a new study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Funded in part by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the study says Florida’s taxpayers contributed $443 million in teen childbearing costs in 2010, the most recent data available. Nationwide, taxpayers spent $9.4 billion.

“In addition to improving the well-being of children, youth and families, reducing teen pregnancy also saves taxpayer dollars,” Sarah Brown, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer, said in a statement." http://www.foxnews.com/politics/...


Not to be uncharitable, the full shimmy shirt and pants alluded to the BS content of your comment where you tried to pin the onus on me for "insulting" Grand Haven as a way to stoke the flames of bigotry.

If you are truly serious about a teen pregnancy discussion:

Even though teen pregnancies are at their lowest level since the 1990's, they are still the highest among developed countries, and it costs US taxpayers around 8-10 billion a year, when considering all immediate and long-term costs to society. Only about 20% of the fathers actually marry the pregnant teen. And teen pregnancy is a major contributor to the continuing cycle of poverty.

Teen pregnancy and attempting to break this cycle of poverty which costs US taxpayers mightily spanning decades of the teens/babies lives is the philosophy behind Obamacare insurance coverage for basic methods of birth control.

It's also the driving motivation behind better and continuous sex education in the schools, more knowledge of birth control methods, anatomy, the birth process, and the responsibilities of being a parent.

It's behind the philosophy of offering affordable tech ed, careerline choices, and local community colleges where teen mothers/fathers have access to local, low-cost degrees and certifications so that there is some glimmer of hope in breaking the cycle of poverty.

The fact is that nearly every aspect of society pushes children into making decisions for which they are often not developmentally ready, and especially puts the pressure on girls to conform to societal standards of beauty, sexuality, and desirability. And, as we read on these pages nearly every day, young girls of all colors are most often the targeted victims of rape, incest, sexual harassment and sexual abuse.

I sincerely ask: why on earth do conservative, right-wing politicians want to strip away the social net lifelines for poor teenage girls through taking away access to birth control, opting for abstinence-only sex education (although it should be an important part of birth control education and emphasized repeatedly), shutting down clinics that provide health care, support, and education to poor, young mothers, fathers, and babies, and otherwise creating an even greater financial burden on US taxpayers for the life of these babies?

Why is the approach to the declining rate of teen pregnancy - yet still too high and costly - to ignore ways to break the cycle of poverty, yet bemoan the costs of teen pregnancies as a breakdown in traditional values?

It's a shame this even has to be said, but teen pregnancy occurs not only in poor black families, but in poor, conservative, 'traditional' families, as well. All teen pregnancies within disadvantaged homes becomes a cost to US taxpayers eventually, in some manner, and to some degree.


The driving issue is they are having SEX at an age when they should be focused on education, personal growth and development.

Why does the left always focus on giving a pass to the bad behaviors and enable it so these young people become dependant....oh never mind I remember now, they need those votes to keep their elite power.


Did you know that in the majority of teen pregnancies, the father is older than 20 years of age?


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