Detroit Free Press: Marick Masters on surge in downtown security jobs

Detroit's rebound has brought a surge in new artisanal restaurants, renovated office space and $2,000-per-month loft apartments in the past five years. It also has spawned hundreds of new employment opportunities in private security to watch over those businesses and their employees and patrons. Many of these security jobs have gone to Detroit residents, extending economic benefits of the revitalization happening in the greater downtown to more individuals who live in the still-struggling neighborhoods. The jobs do pay better than working fast food or some retail positions. The larger security firms also offer optional health care plans and opportunities to advance into managerial ranks. Still, few are getting rich working downtown security. The pay at security firms typically starts at just above Michigan's $9.25 hourly minimum wage. (Wages are higher for armed guards.) And the relatively low wage ceiling for some positions can lead to high employee turnover, especially as the unemployment rate continues to fall. Falling unemployment and recent increases to Michigan's minimum wage have compelled security firms to raise wages to some degree to keep employees from jumping to other jobs. Unemployment in Detroit was 7.4 percent in April. That was down from 10.8 percent from April in 2015 and 24.9 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "That could put pressure on employers and contractors to raise pay in order to attract more people," said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University. Guards might also see a pay boost if local or state governments were to add licensing requirements for the job, Masters said. That is because more regulations could create hurdles for new workers, resulting in fewer guards to fill positions.

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