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113,000 Chaldeans in Metro Detroit, Study Says

posted on: Nov 13, 2008

Martin Manna executive profile | Pamela Zinkosky

A survey of the Chaldean community in Metro Detroit reveals that Chaldeans are far more populous than suggested by the U.S. Census Bureau and that both their income and the value of their homes is higher than the averages for southeastern Michigan.

Many also continue to speak their ancient language, Aramaic, as well as English.

The findings, which were released by the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce at a membership meeting Wednesday at the Shenandoah Country Club, provide evidence of the economic and cultural successes of the community of Catholics of Iraqi descent, community leaders say. “It really helps define our community and the contribution they are making in southeastern Michigan,” said Martin Manna, executive director of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce.

For years, Chaldean leaders have said they are far more numerous than the 31,900 Iraqis reported in Metro Detroit by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000. The survey, completed by Marla Scafe of Walsh College and Kurt Metzger of the United Way, puts the population near 113,000, with an additional 8,400 Chaldean refugees arriving from Iraq this summer, as the survey was being completed.

“There is not really a place on the Census forms for the community to pick out whether they are Iraqi,” said Scafe. “I suspect a lot of people do not want to check themselves off as they are Arab, because they don’t see themselves as Arab. So they probably check off that they are white … That is how they end up under-reported.”

There are an additional 12,000 to 15,000 Iraqi Muslims in Metro Detroit, Iraqi leaders say. The survey also found that in 61 percent of Chaldean households, someone owns at least one business, and that the median household income is $96,100. According to the Census Bureau, the median income for Oakland County is the highest in the three-county area, at $68,400.

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Picture caption:
Martin Manna
Executive Director
Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce