UM survey: Michigan local economies still grappling with pandemic effects


Michigan’s local economies are still grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but at a much slower pace than the crisis began in the spring of 2020, according to a statewide survey by the University of Michigan to local government officials.

As of spring 2021, 39% of local Michigan officials report that their local economies have suffered significant impacts (33%) or even crisis (6%) in the final year of the pandemic. However, this is a sharp drop from the 86% of jurisdictions that reported severe economic impacts at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Local governments in 75% of the state’s largest jurisdictions say they have taken or plan to take at least one action to support local businesses. Of all the jurisdictions that had taken action in spring 2021, two-thirds (66%) think they have been somewhat (55%) or very (11%) effective, and only 6% say they have been ineffective .

Efforts by those who report taking action include promoting or advertising local small businesses to the community (21%), removing fees and fines, extending payment terms (19%) and creating more space for social distancing, such as closing local roads and issuing permits. for outdoor meals (17%).

These are among the first results of the Spring 2021 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), conducted between April 5 and June 7 by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the Ford School of Public. Policy.

The pandemic still causes major economic disruption: officials in Michigan’s largest jurisdictions are the most likely to report negative impacts to their local economies, with 61% still reporting significant economic (49%) or crisis level impacts (12%) in 2021 This figure is down from the 99% who reported such impacts in 2020.

Tom ivako

“This survey shows us that the worst economic effects of the pandemic may be behind us, but there is still a lot of work to be done before local governments feel they have fully emerged,” said the executive director of CLOSUP, Tom Ivacko.

A local government official said his economic development department is holding a weekly Zoom meeting with community economic development directors and chambers of commerce to collaborate on joint marketing efforts and business loans. The official added that it was serving as a model for other counties and regions.

Nathalie Fitzpatrick

Nathalie Fitzpatrick

“Local leaders are the leaders best positioned to understand the unique challenges of their communities and to see how government can help,” said Natalie Fitzpatrick, CLOSUP research specialist and lead author of the report.

“Local governments have been flexible in their approaches to supporting their small businesses, which the survey finds has benefited a large number of Michiganders,” said Debra Horner, CLOSUP project manager.

The MPPS is an ongoing census survey of all 1,856 general purpose local governments in Michigan conducted by CLOSUP since 2009. Respondents for the Spring Wave include county administrators, council chairmen and clerks; mayors, managers and city clerks; village presidents, directors and clerks; and township supervisors, managers and clerks in 1,364 jurisdictions statewide.

The survey is being conducted with the Michigan Association of Counties, the Michigan Municipal League and the Michigan Townships Association. The analysis includes comparisons with public opinion data from the State of the State Survey conducted by Michigan State University.

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