Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroiter Magazine > From the President: Business Leaders Must Combat Misinformation, Our Economy Depends On It

From the President: Business Leaders Must Combat Misinformation, Our Economy Depends On It

May 28, 2024 sandy baruah

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

Over the last few years, the Detroit Regional Chamber has partnered with Richard Czuba’s Glengariff Group, Inc. on a series of statewide polls to gauge voters’ perceptions of issues ranging from views of political figures, their economic confidence, the broader economy, value of a college education, the move to electrified vehicles, and more.

Of all we have learned listening to Michiganders, one overriding theme is clear: We live in an age of misinformation. (I stole this perspective from Richard and I’m making it my own.)

Political polarization and tribalism have been growing since the 1990s, with a brief reprieve after 9/11. As we get our news (or opinion masquerading as news) from ever more slanted sources, it is no surprise that many view our side as “good” and the other side as “bad” and rarely take the time to pressure test our own assumptions.

But the type of misinformation we are seeing among Michigan voters is more basic – not views of candidates or politics– but misunderstandings of critical facts. Some of these misunderstandings or misperceptions run the risk of negatively impacting individuals and Michigan’s broader economic health.

Economic Conditions Are Much Better Than People Think


  • Inflation: 3.5%
  • GDP growth: 3%
  • Unemployment: 3.4%
  • U.S. stocks: up 26% (2023)
  • Michiganders NOT concerned about losing their job: 85%
  • Michiganders reporting they are doing as well or better than pre-pandemic: 60%


  • Consumer confidence is lower than the Great Recession
  • 60% + Michiganders report the economy is in recession or weakening

The Cost of Postsecondary Education Isn’t as High as Many Believe


  • Almost half of graduating Wayne State University (WSU) students have no student debt
  • Those with debt carry less than $25K at graduation
  • State and federal assistance cover most tuition fees for community colleges and public colleges


  • Almost 60% of voters believe the average debt for a WSU student is over $50K
  •  85% of Michiganders think a new car costs more than a
    four-year degree

Vehicle Electrification is Viewed as Political Issue, Not an Economic Reality


  • Goldman Sachs forecasts 50% of new vehicle sales globally will be EVs by 2035
  • Despite less rapid growth in U.S., EV sales continue to rise and one in
    nine new cars sold in the U.S. is electrified


  • Only 17% of Michiganders believe U.S. auto makers are producing EVs due to customer demand – the balance think it’s because of pressure from government or environmentalist

Americans have the right to believe what we believe, and political preferences are born out of our individual values and life experiences– there is no right or wrong. But when it comes to understanding some of the basic dynamics that will propel Michigan’s economy in the 21st century, a more skilled workforce and the global shift to electrification in our signature industry – just to name two, we need a better level of public understanding.

Business leaders play an increasingly important role in this type of public education. The Edelman Trust Barometer ranks employers as one of the most trusted sources of information, not surprisingly perhaps, as institutions such as the media and elected officials continue to see trust levels drop.

As we enter an ever increasing world of misinformation, business leaders will be required to play a larger role in combating misinformation – especially when our economy hangs in the balance.