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Michiganders Remain Upbeat About Economy

Charles Ballard

Consumer confidence in Michigan dipped slightly in the fall but remained relatively strong as the state continues to ride a long-running wave of financial optimism.

Michigan State University’s quarterly State of the State Survey found that nearly 58 percent of state residents rate their financial situation as excellent or good. That’s down from 60 percent in the previous survey but still one of the highest marks since more than a decade ago.

“The latest consumer confidence numbers are a continuation of the long trend toward greater confidence and optimism about the economy in the years since the Great Recession,” said Charles Ballard, MSU economist and survey director.

Ballard said consumer confidence runs roughly arm-in-arm with employment. After dropping steadily from 2000 to early 2010, Michigan’s employment level has grown every year since.

“However, even after nearly six years of pretty decent job growth, we are still only a little more than halfway back to where we were in 2000,” Ballard said. “Employment is still more than 400,000 jobs below its all-time high.”

Snyder’s approval jumps

Gov. Rick Snyder’s approval ratings improved 6 percentage points – to nearly 42 percent from 36 percent in the previous survey. Since the governor took office in January 2011, his favorable ratings generally have hovered in the mid- to upper 30s.

But the latest survey was taken before the Flint water crisis became a national story. Ballard said he would be surprised if Snyder’s ratings remain that high in the next survey.

“It remains to be seen where the governor’s ratings will be in the future,” he said. “I think a lot depends on whether the Flint crisis makes a long-term dent.”

Obama holds steady

President Obama’s approval ratings in Michigan ticked down slightly – to 39 percent from 40 percent in the previous survey.

“Obama is mostly holding steady,” Ballard said. “After the euphoria that accompanied his coming to office in 2009, when more than 70 percent of Michiganders gave Obama a favorable rating, his numbers fell steadily for a year. Since then they have typically been from the upper 30s to mid-40s, except for an upward bump at the beginning of 2013, which I believe was the result of his second inauguration.”

The telephone survey of 972 Michigan adults was conducted between Oct. 26 and Dec. 23. The margin of error is +/- 3.14 percent.

The State of the State Survey is the only survey conducted in Michigan designed to systematically monitor the public mood on important issues statewide. The survey has been conducted since 1994 by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research. IPPSR is a unit of MSU’s College of Social Science.

– Charles Ballard, Andy Henion, Cynthia Kyle via MSU Today

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