Detroit Regional Chamber > Media Coverage > Poll: Michigan Voters Remain Split on Economy, Education

Poll: Michigan Voters Remain Split on Economy, Education

March 3, 2023

March 2, 2023
Jake Bekemeyer

Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber released findings from a new statewide poll of registered Michigan voters, showing a widening gap between voters’ perceptions of economic conditions as well as a disconnect between where voters believe future economic needs and trends will be compared to the consensus of business leaders and economic forecasters.

The chamber’s polling partner, The Glengariff Group Inc., completed the statewide poll of 600 registered Michigan voters between Feb. 10-13.

“Part of the value of survey research is to understand whether leaders and voters are on the same page,” says Richard Czuba, president of The Glengariff Group. “On the economy, voters are pessimistic.

“On advanced education, a large segment of the population believes a high school diploma is enough. And on the move to vehicle electrification, a large block of voters appears reluctant. These numbers highlight the challenges leaders face in bringing voters along in these conversations.”

The poll showed 27 percent of Michigan voters believe that a college education is “very important” to landing a successful job in Michigan, and 69 percent believe that a high school diploma is the minimum level of education needed to be successful in Michigan. Almost a quarter of respondents believe a college education is not important.

Contrary to these views, the chamber states that 37 of the 50 “Hot Jobs” in the state require a bachelor’s degree or higher, while unemployment rates are higher and earnings lower for those with only a high school degree.

The poll showed voters continue to hold sour views of today’s economy and expectations for the future — despite low unemployment, rising wages, increased flexible working conditions, and continued economic growth.

The economy has experienced significant shocks in recent years as a result of the pandemic, related supply chain disruptions, unprecedented Federal interventions, and inflation challenges. However, the Chamber reports core economic indicators remain strong, including a record-low 3.8 percent unemployment rate and continued GDP growth. Despite this, voters remain pessimistic about today’s economy and the prospects of a recession.

Inflation today, while moderating from summer 2022 peaks, remains a primary drag on consumer sentiment, which reached record lows in the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index in June 2022.

Despite voters’ negative economic views, they remain optimistic about their own situations. For example, 70 percent report doing better or the same as in the past, 78 percent believe there are good jobs for people looking for work, and only 19 percent report worrying about losing their jobs.

Strong economic indicators justify the Federal Reserve Bank’s continued interest rate increases to counter growing inflation driven by consumer demand.

On workplace trends, the poll showed 65.9 percent of workers have a job that requires them to go into work, while 21.7 percent of workers have a hybrid workplace. That leaves 12.4 percent of workers working entirely remote.

The most significant statistical differences in job types were by education and income levels. College-educated workers and those earning $75,000 or more were more likely to work from home, at least partially.

While the results on this topic have not been subject to the same disconnects as those previously mentioned, the voter perceptions and habits around the workplace are worth heeding by businesses, according to the DRC.

The patterns of remote work established during the pandemic are here to stay. According to Gallup, 56 percent of all U.S. workers are able to work remotely, and of these workers, well over half will seek new employment options if they are not provided continued flexibility.

On electrification, voter remained split on the transition from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles towards electric vehicles (EVs).

The chambers show, however, on the global scale, China’s domestic market share of EVs is projected to be 48 percent by 2030 (due, in part, to huge government subsidies), nearly double that of the U.S. (27 percent), and Europe’s is projected to reach 42 percent, according to Deloitte in 2020.

Consumer demand for EVs is high, with 200,000 reservations for the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck before it even went on sale. The 2023 order book for the Cadillac Lyriq SUV closed in June 2022, moving to a waitlist for the 2024 model. It also shows owners of EVs are quickly hooked, with a vast majority opting to continue with an EV for their next vehicle purchase.

At the same time, EVs are more expensive compared to traditional cars and trucks, there are few working charging stations relative to gas pumps, materials from batteries are coming from child labor in Africa, while consumers also have to consider range anxiety, the high cost of replacing batteries, outfitting homes with new electric lines, long charging times, and more.