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Published in Economic Development

Survey: Michigan executives expect state, U.S. economies to remain on track over the next year

BY Wednesday, August 11, 2021 11:26am

A vast majority of executives surveyed by Business Leaders for Michigan expects the U.S. and state economies to remain on the current pace or grow over the next six months to a year.

Virtually all members of the business roundtable responding to the summer survey plan to maintain or expand their workforce, although three-quarters expect a shortage of workers over the next six to 12 months even as extended unemployment benefits end in September. 

Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Jeff Donofrio COURTESY PHOTO

More than three-quarters of Business Leaders for Michigan members expect to have problems filling open positions, according to survey results released today.

Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Jeff Donofrio urged Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and legislators to use federal American Rescue Plan funding to “greatly expand opportunities for Michigan workers seeking to finish their college degree or start a new technical or skills program.” Donofrio also urged officials to “double down on increasing the number of Michiganders that complete training programs, choose to stay after graduation and move back to Michigan from out of state.”

“With talent shortages threatening our recovery and future competitiveness, Michigan can’t afford not to make big investments expanding the talent pipeline,” Donofrio said in a statement. “The governor and Legislature have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage large investments of federal funding and state surpluses to give us the tools to close the talent gap now and in the future.”

The Business Leaders for Michigan survey also found that 46 percent of member companies brought their workforce back this summer for some level of in-person work. Another 40 percent seek to return to in-person work after Labor Day for at least part of the week once school returns, giving employees flexibility.

As the coronavirus delta variant spreads, 70 percent of survey respondents said they continue to require people who are unvaccinated to wear masks in the workplace.

Meanwhile, 89 percent of CEOs that represent Michigan’s largest employers expect the U.S. economy will maintain or grow in the next six to 12 months, and 85 percent say the same for Michigan, according to the survey.

In an updated U.S. economic outlook issued this week, Comerica Inc. economists forecast Real GDP of 5.8 percent for the present third quarter and 6.1 percent in the fourth. The U.S. should average 6 percent Real GDP for all of 2021, according to the Comerica outlook.

Comerica forecasts 5.2 percent Real GDP in 2022.

Comerica economists noted that a “huge” gain of 943,000 payroll jobs across the U.S. in July, and a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent, “was fueled by restaffing in leisure/hospitality and government,” according to the updated outlook. “No doubt that those jobs are important and will generate further economic growth. But it is fair to say that the huge job gain in July does not necessarily represent a surging economy as much as it represents a re-staffing economy.”

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