Sept. 20, 2023
The Detroit Regional Chamber and Business Leaders for Michigan today released findings of a new statewide poll to better understand the key economic and lifestyle factors that influence 18-29-year-old Michiganders’ choices. Insights about the decisions this key demographic makes about where to live are critically important as business and government leaders explore ways to address the state’s declining population.
The poll of 600 Michigan residents was conducted by research firm The Glengariff Group Inc. in Lansing from Aug. 14-19.
The findings indicate this generation’s desire to put down roots in a place that provides job opportunities, gets the fundamentals right, and creates a welcoming environment. The study concludes that policymakers and employers must focus on all three of these areas to attract and retain population in the state.
Michigan’s population challenges have long been a concern as employers struggle to fill jobs and the state loses national influence. Michigan is losing 8,000 working-age adults (ages 18-64) annually to communities that are growing fastest in the knowledge economy. The survey found only 64% of respondents say they see themselves living in Michigan in 10 years, and those who are college-educated are the most likely to say they expect to leave the state.
Business Leaders for Michigan and the Detroit Regional Chamber sought to capture the priorities and perceptions of young adults under age 30 as the state charts a course for its economic and social future.
“Three things are clear from this survey that policymakers would be wise to heed,” says Sandy K. Baruah, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber.: “First, young persons want the same fundamentals all Michigan residents do — solid infrastructure, safe communities, good education; Second, economic opportunity is central to keeping and attracting young professionals, including careers in growing industries with competitive salaries; and third, a state’s social policies matter. A strong majority of respondents report that states with welcoming policies and that protect individual rights are more attractive.”
The study also found that for Michigan to grow its population — especially young professionals — Republican and Democratic policymakers will need to work together as neither party is fully addressing this critical demographic.
“Talent drives competitiveness now more than ever. If we hope to be a winner in retaining young talent, we’ll need to offer strong job opportunities, safe and vibrant communities, and an affordable quality of life,” says Jeff Donofrio, president and Chief Executive Officer of Business Leaders for Michigan. “No one political party or group can solve the problem on their own; we have to put aside our individual interests and focus on growing Michigan together.”
“The survey results show that people under 30 are looking for good economic opportunities and a better way of life,” says Richard Czuba, president of The Glengariff Group Inc. “But ‘a better way of life’ means different things to different people. For college-educated voters, a better way of life includes a guarantee of their rights when it comes to social issues.”