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Chamber Presents Poll Findings to Rep. Stevens and Municipal Leaders

Brad Williams, vice president of government relations for the Detroit Regional Chamber, presented findings from the Chamber’s May Michigan Priorities Poll to U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI 11), and municipal leaders from her district, which encompasses parts of Oakland and Wayne Counties.

“As Michigan works to expand vaccination rates across the state and support economic growth, it is important for the Chamber to work with local, state, and federal leaders to help accelerate a post-pandemic recovery, said Williams after the meeting. “Providing data and economic analysis of what is happening on the ground throughout the state will help our leaders make sound public policy decisions.”

Key Points Shared at Municipal Leaders Meeting

Policy Could Make Small Boosts to Vaccination Rates

Our poll indicates that the number of individuals willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine has increased significantly from December of 2020, but only marginally since February 2021. There remains a stubborn 20% of Michiganders who do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances.  It appears that most existing policy interventions will have a marginal impact without innovative thinking.  We also know that COVID safety was cited as the number one barrier to getting people back into the labor force (22.9%).  Data helped shape the Chamber’s thinking around our creation of the vaccine incentives for 1 million Michiganders to get vaccinated in our 100k by Labor Day Return to Work Plan.

Unemployment Benefits Are a Modest Part of Our Labor Challenge

Michigan’s labor market is tight.  Our unemployment rate outpaces the national average by 1.2% and our Unemployment Insurance system has been stressed to unprecedented levels since the onset of the pandemic.  Getting people from UIA into jobs serves a social good and state budget savings, but our labor market is only going to get healthier when we attract more people into the market.  The poll told us this, 4.2% of people employed before the pandemic left the workforce altogether and skewed towards workers at the end of their careers.  In order to address Michigan’s labor challenge in the short and medium term, policymakers should focus on expanding the labor market.  We suggest incentives like $2,000 Return to Work grants, coupled with $1,000 grants for employers that can be used as either incentive to bring people back into the workforce or retrain them. We acknowledge $400 million this plan would cost is a significant figure and seems counter intuitive to some. However, when you consider that Michigan spent an unprecedented $22 billion on unemployment during only the first 6 months of the pandemic, it is a fiscally responsible one-time investment to grow the workforce.

Voters Want Convenient, Secure Elections

The Chamber has been clear on our principles for any changes to elections laws that:

  • The 2020 election was well executed, fair, and lacked meaningful levels of voter fraud. Therefore, changes to voting rules and processes must be made carefully and not create unreasonable impediments for voters.
  • Improving security coupled with more customer-centric voting processes need not be a partisan issue; as the Democratic governor and Republican legislature of Kentucky recently demonstrated.
  • Some elements of our society face higher hurdles to vote, including restricted personal resources and more difficult polling place access – and these issues must be addressed. Making voting more difficult is contrary to the ethos of both social and technological advancement.
  • Michigan businesses compete nationally and internationally for diverse talent to remain competitive. More restrictive voting rules send an unwelcoming message to prospective talent and hinder our state’s economic competitiveness.

Rep. Stevens and municipal leaders were grateful for the Chamber’s analysis and work.