Poll: Inflation, Not Jobs, Drive Strong Concern Over Michigan’s Economy

The Detroit Regional Chamber (DRC) today released findings from its latest statewide poll of registered Michigan voters as its 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway this week on Mackinac Island.
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Inflation, not job concerns are driving nearly three-quarters of registered Michigan voters to feel pessimistic about the future of the economy. // Stock Photo
Inflation, not job concerns are driving nearly three-quarters of registered Michigan voters to feel pessimistic about the future of the economy. // Stock Photo

The Detroit Regional Chamber (DRC) today released findings from its latest statewide poll of registered Michigan voters as its 2022 Mackinac Policy Conference gets underway this week on Mackinac Island.

The new survey revealed trends in perception of inflation, the state’s education system, business’ role in social issues, and key voter motivations during an election year.

“This poll is enlightening as we enter the 2022 mid-term elections and will shape the discussions at the Mackinac Policy Conference, which will focus on the changing role of business in polarizing times,” says Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the DRC.

An area that wasn’t polarizing in the survey was inflation, with 72.8 percent saying the economy is on the wrong track. When voters were asked in an open-ended question what the most important issue was facing Michigan, inflation drives the top concern at 33 percent.

Among the 72.8 percent of voters who said the economy was on the wrong track, 44 percent specifically cited inflation and cost of goods, 9.8 percent cited gas prices, and 2.3 percent of these voters cited a lack of jobs.

More than a quarter, 28 percent, said they are doing worse economically than in the past and 22.7 percent saying they are doing better. The majority however, 48.4 percent, said their situation was mostly unchanged.

In December 2021, 73.5 percent of voters said they were economically doing the same or better as the past. In May 2022, 70.7 percent of voters say they are economically doing the same or better than the past.

For the 28 percent that say they are doing worse, they specifically cite inflation as the reason.

More than three-quarters of those saying they are doing worse specifically cited increased costs as the reason. Only 3.6 percent of those that say they are doing worse cite a lack of jobs or work.

More than half of those surveyed, 54.7 percent, believe inflation will continue for years, while 34 percent believe it will begin to slow down. Voters who are under 50-years-old are far more likely to believe it will last for years — an average of 61.4 percent — while voters over 50 are more likely to believe it will slow down — 38.9 percent on average.

Voters were asked about their employment status prior to COVID-19 hitting. They were then asked about their employment status today. Of those employed prior to COVID-19, 60.5 percent are still in the same job, while 26.2 percent of those employed prior to COVID-19 are in a different job. That makes 86.7 percent of people in total in the same or different job following the pandemic.

A smaller percent — 5.4 percent — of those employed prior to COVID-19 have retired or moved to disability while 4.3 percent are not working or looking for work right now. The smallest number — 3.5 percent — of those employed prior to COVID-19 are currently looking for work.

For workers that prior to COVID-19 primarily worked in an office setting, just over half of those workers have returned full time to the office. Approximately a quarter said they were working in an office/home hybrid setting, while 17.8 percent said they were working mostly from home.

For workers that prior to COVID-19 primarily worked in an office setting, just over half of those workers have returned full time to the office. Those 55.8 percent said they are mostly back in the office. More than a quarter said they were working in an office/home hybrid setting and 17.8 percent said they were working mostly from home.

When asked if they support or oppose Michigan business leaders taking public positions on major policy issues, voters were mixed with 47.4 percent in support and 30.9 percent in opposition. Some voters — 21.6 percent — said it depends.

“Consistent with the chamber’s recent polling work with The Glengariff Group, we continue to see a disconnect between voters’ perceptions of the overall economy, which is highly negative (and) driven by inflation concerns, but strong confidence in their own economic situation, including very low levels of job insecurity,” says Baruah.

The chamber’s polling partner, The Glengariff Group Inc., completed the statewide poll of 600 registered Michigan voters between May 9-13.

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