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The Question is – why does 49503 have the fastest growing income in Michigan?

November 28, 2017

Last Friday, MLive posted a short piece about how the 49503 zip, which is in Grand Rapids, is the fastest growing income in the state of Michigan.

The article provides some data and makes it clear that the 49503 zip code is not the wealthiest zip code in Michigan, but that it has had the highest increase based on percentage. MLive states:

“Average income in the ZIP code, which includes downtown Grand Rapids, increased by 31.8 percent between 2014 and 2015 filings, the data shows. The average income reported in 2015 was $93,995.75.”

The article also provides additional data and acknowledges that there are, “about 33 percent of residents in 49503 fall below the poverty level.”

However, the MLive article doesn’t ask the logical and important question as to why the 49503 zip saw such a significant increase of income.

You can see where the borders are for the 49503 zip code, which includes all if downtown and other corridors that have been significantly gentrifies over the past decade. I would argue that there are 3 contributing factors to the increased income for the 49503 zip code. First, is the number of professional people moving into the area and occupying all the newer $1500 – $3,000 a month housing units. In fact, most of the housing units that have been constructed in the past 10 years have benefitted the professional class and in some cases caused the displacement of those experiencing poverty or working class families, like the project on Michigan Street from 2016

A second reason, is based on the fact that Grand Rapids already has the largest wealth gap in the state of Michigan, based on a 2016 report from the Economic Policy Institute

The second reason is related to the third reason, which is the fact that there are some extremely wealthy people living in the 49503 zip code. The DeVos Family are the richest in the 49503 zip codes, based on the address they use when submitted campaign contributions. We all know they have multiple houses in more than one state, but the DeVos Family does use 49503 as their address for political contributions, based on data from the Center for Responsive Politics

Here is a sample below of the largest political contributions from the 49503 zip code. As you can see everyone listed here and many more are all members of the DeVos Family.

While not surprising, it is too bad that MLive didn’t bother to ask such a basic question as to why the 49503 zip code has had the largest increase in income. But then again, this would raise questions about wealth and poverty and that is something the commercial media tends to avoid looking into.

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