City of Detroit Reports Revised Revenue Estimates for Fiscal Years 2021-2025

  • City budget faces larger crunch, but major development projects to spur Detroiter employment

On February 16, the City held its regular February Revenue Estimating Conference to receive an update to the Detroit Economic Outlook for 2020-2025 and approve economic and revenue forecasts for the remainder of fiscal year 2021 and for fiscal year 2022 through fiscal year 2025. State law requires the City to hold independent revenue conferences in September and February each fiscal year to set the total amount available to be budgeted for the next four years.

The Detroit Economic Outlook Update for 2020-2025 was prepared by the City of Detroit University Economic Analysis Partnership, which is a collaboration of economic researchers at Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE) at the University of Michigan.  The Update noted that “[t]he COVID-19 recession will have a deep and long-lasting impact on the city of Detroit.”

In its presentation, RSQE noted the dramatic economic impact of COVID-19 upon the City, which saw unemployment rates rise from 8.8% in 2019 to 20% in calendar year 2020.  RSQE also noted that this rate has declined in 2021 to a projected 14.3%, but that a return to pre-COVID levels could take until 2025. 

“The challenging revenue and economic outlook will require the City to focus on controlling costs, while making targeted one-time investments to protect City residents and support the City’s future,” said Acting CFO Jay Rising. “Detroit and its residents were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, both personally and economically.  What we heard today underscores the need for fiscal relief from Washington to help our residents, businesses, and Detroit weather the remaining life of this pandemic.”

Faster Detroiter employment rebound expected

While unemployment rate recovery may be protracted, the City’s total payroll job count and the payroll jobs held by Detroit residents is projected to recover more quickly with pre-COVID 19 levels of total payroll employment returning by 2022 and of Detroit resident employment by 2023.

Despite the pandemic’s impact on Detroit’s economy, RSQE projects a stronger recovery for the city than the state overall because many long-term projects in the city remain underway. These include the Hudson’s Site downtown, Michigan Central Station in Corktown, the FCA assembly complex, the Amazon distribution center at the State Fairgrounds, and the Gordie Howe International Bridge. The City’s conservative revenue estimates exclude the new jobs and investment from these projects, which will provide revenue upside compared to the forecast.

Revenue Outlook Remains Challenging

The Revenue Conference reported FY2021 General Fund (GF) and GF-Impact revenues projected at $931.1 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, down $58.5 million (5.9%) from the FY2021 Adopted Budget in April 2020 and down $252.6 million (21.3%) from pre-pandemic estimates in February 2020. Revenue losses are driven by the economic impact of the pandemic, nonresidents working remotely, and casino closures and capacity restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19.

General Fund and GF-Impact revenue for FY2022, which begins July 1, is now forecasted at $1.092 billion, an increase of $161.2 million (17.3%) over the revised FY2021 but still down $103 million (8.6%) from pre-pandemic FY2022 estimates. This FY2022 forecast assumes nonresidents who work in the City will gradually begin returning to City workplaces and casino operations begin normalizing through this summer and fall.

The General Fund revenue forecast for FY2023 increases 5.1% over FY2022 as peak pandemic effects on nonresident remote work and casinos wear off. The conservative forecasts for FY2024 and FY2025 show modest revenue growth around 1.5%. In total, the City’s recurring revenues do not recover to FY2019 levels until FY2024.

The estimates approved today set the revenues for the City’s FY2022 Budget and FY2022 through FY2025 Four-Year Financial Plan. The voting conference principals included Jay B. Rising, the City’s Acting Chief Financial Officer; Eric Bussis, Chief Economist, Michigan Department of Treasury; and George A. Fulton, PhD, Director Emeritus, Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics, University of Michigan.

To review past Revenue Estimating Conference Reports visit Financial Reports under Revenue Estimating Conference Reports section.