Michigan Business Leaders Survey: In-person Work Expected in Q3

Many Michigan employers anticipate their employees will be able to return to in-person work during the third quarter of this year, according to an updated and expanded survey conducted in January by Lansing-based Business Leaders for Michigan.
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employee with briefcase and mask
According to a survey by Business Leaders for Michigan, 84 percent of employers expect their employees to return to in-person work in the third quarter. // Stock photo

Many Michigan employers anticipate their employees will be able to return to in-person work during the third quarter of this year, according to an updated and expanded survey conducted in January by Lansing-based Business Leaders for Michigan.

The internal member survey reports on Michigan business leaders’ thoughts on the state’s economy during the next six-12 months. About 84 percent of respondents expect the state’s economy will remain the same or improve during that time period, a six-point increase from the last survey in the third quarter of 2020.

Nearly 55 percent of executives surveyed say at least half of their staff members are still working remotely, with 84 percent expecting employees to return to work in-person by the third quarter.

Remote work, however, is expected to continue to be a part of doing business, with more than half of employers expecting to have greater than 10 percent of their workforce working remotely going forward.

“As vaccine distribution ramps up and economic confidence continues to expand, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future,” says Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Yet even with robust growth and continued federal stimulus funds, it could still take years for employment to recover to pre-pandemic levels.”

The three biggest factors influencing Michigan’s future economic growth are the speed and acceptance of vaccinations, the availability of federal stimulus dollars, and employers’ projected future capital investment and employment.

The executives surveyed say they anticipate growth in both areas of business investment, with 88 percent predicting stable or expanded employment and 91 percent expecting steady or increasing capital investment.

“Despite this confidence, there’s still uncertainty around how quickly we can reach herd immunity, the impact of new COVID variants on the economy, and the ability of government to support economic recovery,” Donofrio says.

About 48 percent of business leaders expect the U.S. economy will improve during the coming year, with another 35 percent believing it will remain about the same.

Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s business roundtable, is dedicated to making Michigan a Top 10 state for jobs, personal income, and a healthy economy. The organization is composed of the executive leaders of Michigan’s largest companies and universities. The members’ companies generate more than $1 trillion in annual revenue and drive nearly 40 percent of the state’s economy.

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