Chaldeans in Metro Detroit
The Detroit Metropolitan area contains the largest single concentration outside of the Middle East of persons identifying themselves as “Chaldeans.” Chaldeans first came to Detroit in the first decade of the Twentieth Century, drawn by the growing automobile industry as well as the already existing Middle Eastern community.
Chaldean Household Survey
The Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with other local Chaldean organizations, came to the decision that a survey of the community would be beneficial as a way of both gaining a better understanding of the community and of obtaining a better estimate of the actual number of Chaldeans in the Detroit area. An advisory group was formed in 2006 and Dr. Marla Scafe from Walsh College and Kurt Metzger from the United Way for Southeastern Michigan were retained to assist in the development of the survey instrument, the survey methodology and the analysis of results.
In addition to household composition and educational attainment, the survey gathered information on age, employment, business ownership, church attendance, income, place of birth, year of entry, language spoken at home, housing type, ownership and value, fuel usage, income and more. Among the most interesting findings of the survey was the fact that approximately 61 percent of Chaldean households own their own business.
While grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations formed the basis of early entrepreneurship, Chaldeans have moved on to invest in rental properties and real estate holdings, larger supermarkets, cell phone stores and hotels. An analysis of household income responses yielded a median household income of $96,100, well above the area median. One reason for this (in addition to business ownership) is the fact that Chaldean households tend to be family households and, more often than not, contain multiple workers.
Survey Results Summary
- Are Iraq’s indigenous people
- Have a 5,000-year history dating back to Mesopotamia—the cradle of civilization
- Are synonymous with Babylonians—Abraham was from Ur (city) of the Chaldeans
- Are Eastern Rite Catholics—converted by St. Thomas the Apostle
- Are unified with the Roman Catholic Church, under thei r own rite with separate Bishops and a Patriarch/Cardinal who resides in Iraq
- Have faced numerous genocides because of their religious beliefs and are now a 5% minority in Iraq
- Speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ—the oldest continuously spoken language in the World
- An estimated 2 million Chaldeans throughout the world
- 300,000 estimated Chaldeans/Assyrians in the United States
- 121,000 reside in Southeast Michigan—the biggest concentration outside of Iraq
- Eight Chaldean Catholic Churches in Metro-Detroit area, an Assyrian Church and a Syriac Church
Chaldeans are Entrepreneurs:
- Migrated to Detroit since early 1900s, majority migrated in late 1960s
- 61% of the Michigan Chaldean households own at least one business
- 39% of the Michigan Chaldean households own two or more businesses
- Own an estimated 15,000 businesses in Michigan
- Currently own an estimated 90% of Detroit’s convenience stores
- Own an estimated 75 out of 84 supermarkets in the city of Detroit
- Major concentrations: Real estate development, convenience and grocery stores, suburban gas stations, hospitality, food service and wireless
- Since the Iraq war, half of the country’s Christians have fled mainly due to religious and ethnic persecution
- More than 47,000 Chaldean refugees have come to America since 2007, two thirds of those to Michigan
- An additional 19,000 refugees are expected in 2011-2013
Chaldean Business Survey
In continuing our effort to gauge the economic impact Chaldeans have in this region, Data Driven Detroit and Walsh College surveyed Chaldean businesses in 2011, compiling data to identify details on Chaldean-owned businesses by sector, including information on how many people Chaldeans employ and the number of businesses we own. Survey results are expected to be released in April 2012.