Detroit Regional Chamber > Chamber > New Statewide Poll: Michigan Voters Express Concern With State’s Competitiveness in Wake of UAW Strike, View Public Ed System and Tax Climate as Disadvantages

New Statewide Poll: Michigan Voters Express Concern With State’s Competitiveness in Wake of UAW Strike, View Public Ed System and Tax Climate as Disadvantages

December 11, 2023


Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber released findings from its latest statewide poll of 600 registered Michigan voters in partnership with the Glengariff Group, Inc. The poll was conducted between Nov. 5-9, 2023.

Sandy Baruah

“Michiganders are realizing that our state is not competitive in key areas, such as economic growth approaches and our public education system, and concerns about Michigan’s economic competitiveness are exacerbated by the UAW strike against the Detroit Three automakers.

The continuing dynamic that perceptions of economic conditions are driven more by party affiliation as opposed to actual economic data is troubling – pointing to our politically polarized population. In reality, key economic indicators are generally strong, including declining inflation and strong economic growth. Additionally, a vast majority of voters consider their own economic situations stable or improving, yet strong majorities hold sour views of overall economic conditions.

– Sandy K. Baruah, President and Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Regional Chamber

Richard Czuba

“When it comes to the state’s competitiveness, Michigan voters show remarkable nuance in their positions. While our natural resources, large business base, public universities, and skilled workforce are seen as large advantages, our public education system, tax structure, and infrastructure are seen as disadvantages. Similarly, while voters believe the result of the strike is good for workers, they have far more mixed feelings about whether it will have a positive impact on Michigan’s economy and automotive industry.”

– Richard Czuba, President, The Glengariff Group, Inc.

Key Findings

  • The UAW strike was not viewed as favorably as previously reported.
  • Only one in five Michigan voters think the state is economically competitive, and more than one-third consider the public education system a disadvantage.
  • More than two-thirds of voters support investing over cutting taxes, despite expressing dissatisfaction with the state’s tax structure.
  • Inflation and cost of goods remain top-of-mind concerns for Michigan voters. The Chamber’s polling partner, the Glengariff Group, has found through extensive polling in Michigan that food and grocery prices are a primary driver of voters’ negative views of overall economic conditions despite generally strong economic indicators and confidence in their employment situation and opportunities.

Pluarity of Michigan Voters Believe UAW Strike is Bad for the Detroit Three and the Economy…

Respondents were asked four questions about how the strike between the UAW and Detroit Three automakers would impact Michigan.

Long term, would the strike be good, bad, or have no impact on Michigan’s economy?

15.7%No Impact

Would the strike make the Detroit Three more competitive, less competitive, or have no impact on their competitiveness against other auto companies?

33.7%Less competitive
30.7%No Impact
29.0%More Competitive

…But Good for Workers

Long term, was the strike good for Michigan workers, bad for Michigan workers, or have no impact on Michigan workers?

53.8%Good for Michigan Workers
29.2%Bad for Michigan Workers
12.4%No Impact on Michigan Workers

Would the strike make Michigan more competitive, less competitive, or have no impact on the state’s competitiveness for new jobs?

40.8%More Competitive
29.0%Less Competitive
22.8%No Impact

Chamber Perspective


The gains made by the UAW with the Detroit Three automakers are the latest sign that workers continue to hold the upper hand with employers in the post-pandemic economic environment. Contrary to claims made by the UAW during the six-week strike, public opinion is far more mixed with a plurality understanding that the UAW strike and resulting settlements present additional competitive challenges to local automotive companies in the global market.


The automotive industry is going through the biggest transformation since its inception. The multiple challenges are complex – and expensive – including the global shift to electrification, the accelerated pace of technology (e.g., driver assistance, autonomy), and the fundamental threat of non-traditional players entering the automotive space, including several large Chinese automakers. These challenges will stretch our firms to the limit, and their ongoing global success will be imperative to Michigan’s future economic prosperity.

Only One in Five Respondents Believe Michigan is More Competitive Than Other States

Respondents were asked if they think Michigan is more competitive, less competitive, or about as competitive as other states at attracting new businesses and jobs.

19.6%More competitive
33.8%About the Same
26.6%Less Competitive
20.0%Could not offer an opinion

Republicans believe Michigan is less competitive, but Democrats and Independents believe Michigan is about the same as other states.

Party AffiliationMoreSameLess
Strong Democrat26.9%33.5%22.2%
Strong Republican 10.2%21.0%42.0%

Respondents were read nine different things about Michigan and asked, compared to other states, if it was an advantage, disadvantage, or had no impact on Michigan’s ability to attract new businesses and jobs.

EntityAdvantageNo ImpactDisadvantage
Michigan’s natural resources73.1%12.5%6.6%
Michigan’s businesses/auto companies69.7%10.9%14.6%
Michigan’s public universities63.4%19.1%9.4%
Michigan’s skilled workforce53.8%21.0%14.9%
Michigan’s unions47.1%12.9%24.3%
Michigan’s government34.5%20.0%34.6%
Michigan’s public education system25.7%26.9%38.3%
Michigan’s infrastructure21.9%19.0%48.8%
Michigan’s tax structure17.0%18.6%44.0%

There is considerable unanimity by party affiliation on ranking Michigan’s assets as advantages or disadvantages. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all agree that Michigan’s natural resources, large businesses and automotive companies, public universities, and skilled workforce are considerable advantages. All party affiliations also agree that Michigan’s infrastructure and tax structure are considerable disadvantages.

Chamber Perspective


Challenges to Michigan’s economic competitiveness are becoming more apparent among Michigan voters. The state’s ability to compete globally for new investment suffers from a lack of consistent and comprehensive economic development tools and robust programs that advance technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Further, the fallout from the UAW strike and Right to Work repeal harms Michigan’s ability to vie for new businesses and jobs. Michigan voters understand the importance of the automotive industry to Michigan’s economic fortunes in the short and long term.


In terms of advantages, Michigan voters clearly understand the value of Michigan’s natural resources – a sentiment shared by the state’s 18-29-year-old voters in a September 2023 poll conducted by the Chamber and Business Leaders for Michigan – as well as the automotive industry and universities.

Nearly 40% of Michigan Voters Consider the Public Education System a Disadvantage to the State’s Competitiveness

As noted in the previous section, 38.3% of respondents indicated they consider Michigan’s public school system a competitive disadvantage compared to other states. It ranked among the top three disadvantages in a list of nine categories respondents were asked to categorize as being an advantage, disadvantage, or having no impact on competitiveness.

Michigan voters support investment to improve the public education system for future generations.

Respondents were offered five different ways to make Michigan competitive for future generations and asked which was the most important thing Michigan could do.

34.0%Fully fund Michigan’s public education system and focus on increasing student performance
21.0%Heavily invest in training and preparing workers for high-skill jobs
19.1%Offer better financial incentives to beat other states at attracting new jobs and businesses
18.6%Improve Michigan’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water lines, and other vital services
3.0%Invest in creating walkable, vibrant cities

Democratic and Independent voters strongly preferred investing in education. Republican voters were more evenly split between strong incentives, better training, and education.

Party AffiliationEducationCitiesInfrastructureTrainingIncentives
Strong Democrat40.7%4.8%14.4%19.2%18.0%
Strong Republican22.3%1.9%21.7%23.6%24.8%

Respondents were read four different things Michigan could do to improve the next generation’s standard of living and asked to rate their importance on a scale of one to 10 (10 being most important).

7.8Fully fund Michigan’s public education system to provide adequate resources and demonstrate results in student performance
7.6Create a Michigan student guarantee that every student will possess a specific set of skills and knowledge upon graduation that makes them ready to move to the workplace, even if it requires more than 12 years of education
7.6Offer targeted tax incentives to attract and retain young, skilled talent to remain in Michigan
7.6Publicly fund a K-14 education system that provides two years of free public education at a community college that can be easily transferred to a four-year college if a student chooses to move on

Offering targeted tax incentives had support above 7 across all party affiliations. However, the three options that expanded education support scored above 8 with both Democrats and Independents but fell into the mid-6s among Republican respondents.

Chamber Perspective


A March 2023 Chamber poll reported that only 27% of Michigan voters believe that a college education is “very important” to landing a successful job in Michigan. The Chamber believes this is a perception crisis that must be addressed for Michigan to compete and win in the 21st century and drives the Chamber’s education and talent work, focused on reaching a 60% educational attainment rate by 2030.


This poll, however, offers hope that Michiganders understand that addressing the state’s education challenges is a priority. The strong response to “fully fund Michigan’s public education system” and the creation of a “Michigan student guarantee” reflect a willingness among voters to entertain significant reforms and improvements to public education. It also reflects an understanding that a 12th-grade education is no longer sufficient in today’s complex world, with support for two years of education beyond high school strongly supported.


Additionally, the results of this poll provide support for the work underway by Launch Michigan and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Growing Michigan Together Council – both of which the Chamber supports.

66% of Michigan Voters Support Investment Over Cutting Taxes

Respondents were asked, when it comes to making Michigan more competitive against other states, is it more important to invest in things like education and infrastructure or more important to cut taxes?

65.8% of respondents said invest in education and infrastructure, while 27.7% said cut taxes.

All demographic categories, except Strong Republicans, overwhelmingly chose investing in education and infrastructure over cutting taxes.

However, in an open-ended question about why they believe the state is less competitive than other states, “taxes and government spending” topped the list. Respondents also shared:

18.6%Taxes and government spending
10.6%Not a lot of incentives offered
6.8%Lack of industry diversity (all automotive)
6.2%The state struggles economically
5.0%Costs and inflation

Chamber Perspective


Findings around Michigan’s tax climate presented a challenging disconnect in respondents’ sentiments. While voters never want more taxes, this polling suggests an understanding that certain investments are needed to advance the state competitively, and that might mean some tax increases or reprioritization of existing State expenditures. However, that bar is likely very high, and any case for more taxes would need to be clear, compelling, and made after efficiencies are explored.


Despite supporting tax-funded investments in key areas like education and infrastructure, voters expressed dissatisfaction with the state’s current tax structure, citing it as a disadvantage to Michigan’s competitiveness among other states.


This negative sentiment may be related to voters’ overall unfavorable perception of and concerns about the economy. In reality, Michigan’s tax burden has declined over the past several decades, and the state received its best rating in a decade in the Tax Foundation’s annual State Business Tax Climate Index.

Individuals Continue to Express Confidence in Their Personal Economic and Employment Situations Despite Concerns of Inflation and Overall Economic Conditions

 34% of respondents say the economy, jobs, and inflation are Michigan’s top issues.

18.2%The economy and jobs
16.2%Inflation and cost of goods
9.6%Roads and infrastructure

The number of voters who believe the economy is in a recession is up seven percentage points compared to May 2023.  

In May 2023, 17.9% of respondents said the economy was in recession, compared to 24.3% in November 2023.

Democrats believe the economy is growing, but Independent and Republican respondents sharply believe the economy is weakening.

Party AffiliationGrowingWeakening
Strong Democrat55.1%42.5%
Strong Republican6.4%82.4%

45% of respondents believe inflation will get worse in the next year.

33.2% of respondents said inflation will stay about the same, while 17.2% said inflation will get better.

However, 61% of respondents say they are doing better or the same economically as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

38.4%Doing worse
22.6%Doing better
38.0%Doing about the same

By party affiliation, Republican and Independent respondents said they are doing worse, while Democrat respondents said they are doing the same.

Party AffiliationBetterWorseSame
Strong Democrat34.7%20.4%44.3%
Strong Republican17.8%50.3%29.3%

70% of respondents cited cost issues when asked why they are doing worse economically than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

53.2% of respondents said because of inflation, while 17.2% of respondents said they are not earning a livable wage.

As previously mentioned, extensive statewide polling by the Chamber’s polling partner, the Glengariff Group, continues to show that food and grocery costs are a significant force behind voters’ negative perceptions of the overall economy. The following data will show that these sentiments contradict strong economic indicators and these same voters’ confidence in their personal economic and employment conditions.

 80% of employed respondents are not concerned about losing their jobs.

Among voters who are employed:

62.0%Not at all concerned about losing their current job
20.9%Concerned about losing their current job
5.3%Very concerned about losing their current job

75% of respondents in the labor force have not had trouble finding a good-paying job.

There were no statistical differences by party affiliation or by educational attainment levels. The most significant differences were by age, with those under 50 citing the biggest problem. Women were more likely than men to have trouble landing a good-paying job.

66% of respondents say good jobs are available.

Only 55.9% of respondents aged 18-29 said good jobs were available compared to 77.2% of voters over 65.

AgeAvailableNot Available

Most voters believe the next generation’s standard of living will be worse.

Respondents were asked if their standard of living is better, worse, or about the same as their parents’.

42.2% Better

Respondents under 40 said their standard is worse, while respondents over 40 said their standard is better.


Non-college-educated respondents said their standard of living is worse, while college-educated respondents said their standard of living is better.


Those who said their standard of living is worse than their parents’ were asked why in an open-ended question. The top three responses were:

38.3%Cost of living and inflation
12.6%My parents could afford a house
12.1%They could live on one job and have a livable wage

52% of respondents said the next generation’s standard of living will be worse than their own.

22.4% of respondents said it will be better, while 17.2% said it will be the same.

Every demographic category said the next generation’s standard of living will be worse than their own.

Chamber Perspective


Voters Believe Inflation Will Rise and Risks of Inflation Are Growing:
In contrast to voters’ perceptions of general economic conditions, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s President Austan Goolsbee explained during a recent discussion at the Detroit Economic Club on Nov. 14 – which was moderated by Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Sandy K. Baruah – that inflation has actually stabilized in the nation, coming down in the U.S. more than almost all other “advanced” countries. He also shared that key indicators like GDP have recovered better than expected. While inflation peaked at 9.1% in June 2022, the current rate has dropped to 3.3% and was practically 0% between October and November 2023. Concurrently, economic growth in America remains strong – with 5.2% growth in the third quarter and a long-term average of over 3% (both numbers adjusted for inflation).


Voters Continue to Express Confidence in Their Own Economic and Employment Situation – A Dynamic Consistent Since the Chamber’s May 2022 Poll:

Despite sour views toward the economy, voters have consistently expressed strong confidence in their own economic situations – 61% saying they are doing better or the same economically as before the pandemic. Additionally, in this poll, the Chamber asked about perceptions of the employment market, and 75% reported not having trouble finding a good paying job, and 66% of respondents reported good jobs are available in the market.


When broken down by age, younger voters seem more concerned with the job market, a key finding of the Chamber’s poll of 18-29-year-old voters in September 2023 with Business Leaders for Michigan.


This continued disconnect between voters’ views of their own situations versus overall economic conditions confounds economists and other economic observers. In examining over a year of Chamber polling on this issue, we draw the following preliminary conclusions:


  • While inflation has dramatically moderated, the run-up in prices in areas such as food and rent drive voter’s negative views of the overall economic conditions – despite the fact they continue to exhibit strong spending patterns.
  • Political party affiliation also plays a strong role – with Republicans viewing the economy negatively and Democrats viewing it more positively. This is another strong demonstration of the highly partisan split in our nation.
  • Educational attainment levels also play a role. Those with lower levels of education view the economy more negatively than those with higher levels of education. This dynamic is not surprising because as the economy continues to get more technical and complex, those with more skills and education will continue to fare better.