BLM sees diminished outlook


Business leaders’ concerns are growing regarding the future economic growth over the short and long term.

Nearly half of Michigan business leaders expect a worsening state economy in the next six to 12 months, according to the third-quarter economic survey conducted by Business Leaders for Michigan, a business roundtable that includes top leadership responsible for driving nearly one-third of the state’s economy. The latest survey data was collected earlier this month.

These numbers reflect a major departure from the record high optimism shown in the first quarter of 2018 when more than 80% of those surveyed anticipated growth in the U.S. economy over the short and long terms, and 74% predicted short-term growth for Michigan, as well.

This spring, about a quarter of business leaders reportedly expected conditions to worsen.

“In Michigan, what’s concerning is how many have moved over to the ‘worse/lower’ column during the past quarter — a shift that’s more striking than what we saw for the U.S. economy generally,” said Doug Rothwell, BLM president and CEO. “The GM strike and protracted trade disputes are having an impact.”

Still, over a quarter of respondents expect more capital investment and employment, and over 60% expect levels in those areas to remain about the same. 

“Michigan business leaders are a little less enthusiastic about their own future investment during the next six to 12 months,” Rothwell said. “While most are not yet anticipating any reduction in their employment levels, fewer job providers are coming down on the side of growth.

“Is it time to worry? Not yet, but we need to have some critical conversations about what lies ahead.”

Though economists predict another recession as soon as late next year, many leaders have said the state is in a much better position than when the last one hit a decade ago, which eases some leaders’ worries.

Many of the state’s economists and economic developers tout Michigan’s diversified economy that relies on many industries, rather than just automotive. Manufacturing, agriculture, tech and other areas all have grown since then.

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