Advocacy News – November 10, 2023
Closing out 2023’s Signature Events series with nearly 500 business and community leaders from across the state, the Michigan Chamber’s virtual The State of Michigan Business – A 2024 Outlook took a deep dive into the key trendlines and factors influencing the state’s business climate for the coming year.
MI Chamber President & CEO Jim Holcomb provided pre-recorded opening remarks that laid important groundwork for the discussion.
One of the country’s leading economists, Curtis Dubay of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, shared a “National Economic and Political Update – Signals for Michigan” with a few highlights:
- Our economic growth this year proves strongest in its third quarter. As shown in Dubay’s presentation, the first two quarters of 2023 were around 2% growth, but the third quarter nearly reached 5%. Despite stubborn inflation and interest rates, consumers are continuing to spend at a higher rate than predicted in the post-pandemic economy. Factors like a decrease in layoffs and an increase in job opportunities have boosted consumer confidence. The next quarter and year are expected to be more challenging but he remains optimistic for 2025.
- The workforce participation rate continues to be a real challenge. There are significantly more job openings right now than workers seeking them. Around 3.2 million jobs are on the market, landing us with a large gap between supply and demand and causing ongoing strain on employers. This is exacerbated by a generational retirement stage and the incoming skillsets among the younger generation. He noted that there are certainly more types of jobs today than ever before and our ability to fill openings per industry will vary drastically with what the current workforce is capable of providing.
- Office space use has become a new financial issue. In Washington D.C. alone, office occupancy has plummeted below 50% of its average usage in the past. The value of buildings is declining, especially dependent on location, and many have turned in office keys as a result. Banks have known this is coming, but the real issue and lingering question becomes credit creation and loans banks have given establishments.
The second half of the event was spent in a panelist discussion entitled, “Leading Indicators and Factors.” Our moderator, Rick Albin, political reporter & To The Point host with Wood TV 8, led the panel through a broad range of topics, from clean energy and state legislative priorities to workforce development and elections.
Wendy Block, Senior Vice President of Business Advocacy with the MI Chamber; Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan WORKS!; Jason Roe, Principal of Roe Strategic LLC; and Tyler Theile, COO and Director of Public Policy & Economic Analysis with Anderson Economic Group, shared these key takeaways:
- Michigan may be hurting itself in the regional economy competition. When we consider how policy impacts employers and job creation, for better or worse, the business community needs predictability. With the shift in seats from last year’s elections, many policies have shifted widely. In order to move forward effectively, we have to find more predictable, consistent solutions that are pragmatic and bipartisan in nature.
- Three common threads are key barriers deeply impacting job seekers right now: quality affordable housing, quality, accessible child or adult care, and transportation. While there may be an abundance of job openings, job seekers can only go where it is financially feasible to cover the cost of living, any necessary family care during work hours, and the commute to and from work as needed. Not surprisingly, these are subjects up for discussion in Legislature and where there is room to come together on needed solutions.
- Tuesday’s election results will hopefully bring about bipartisan cooperation. With two sitting state representatives – Reps. Kevin Coleman and Lori Stone – stepping into mayoral seats and the state House shifted to a 54-54 tie at least temporarily, our new legislative dynamic can hopefully bring both parties to the table and focus on how we can be stronger together and forge common sense, effective public policy solutions.
Kurt Wilder, the 2023 MI Chamber Board Chair and former Michigan Supreme Court Justice now at the Butzel law firm as a shareholder, closed out the event with parting words of how businesses succeeding, helps ensure that Michiganders and our community grow and thrive too.
Special thanks to this year’s Outlook event sponsors for helping make this programming possible: gold sponsors (West Shore Bank and Corteva Agriscience), silver sponsors (Michigan WORKS! Association and American Petroleum Institute), and bronze sponsor, Michigan CAT.
The MI Chamber looks forward to a 2024 packed with more timely topics, experts and thought leaders. Stay tuned for a list of 2024 events soon! If you have ideas on Michigan’s business climate, we’d love to hear from you too. Please take this survey.