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Michigan Still Hot on Economy, Slightly Warmer on Elected Leaders

Russ White
Arnold Weinfeld, Charles Ballard, Matt Grossmann

Michigan consumers are basking in the warmth of a strong economy, but just slightly warmer toward their top elected leaders, results from a new Michigan State University State of the State Survey indicate.

Of those taking part in the latest survey, more than half – 60.9 percent -- declared their financial circumstances good or excellent.

“Michigan’s consumer confidence so far this year is just behind the all-time highs set in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” said MSU economist and SOSS Director Charles Ballard.

“It’s not 1999,” Ballard said. “It’s not gangbusters, but it’s pretty good. It’s still an optimistic outlook.”

Nearly half – 49.4 percent – say they are better off now than they were a year ago. “These are the second-best ratings since 2001,” Ballard said. “The upward trend is solidly confirmed,” he said.

Those answering interviewer calls between Feb. 6 and May 19 this year were also confident that they will be better off next year. Just more than 64 percent  predicted their 2019 will be financially better than 2018, Ballard said.

The rating was the second best since 2002. The most optimistic rating came in Fall 1999 when 72.3 percent of those answering SOSS forecast a better year ahead.

This year, some 19.6 percent forecast their circumstances would be about the same, and 16.3 foresaw finances that were worse.

In evaluating their elected leaders, Michigan adults over the age of 18 gave slightly higher marks to President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Snyder than in the previous survey, Ballard said.

“The operative phrase is that ratings ‘inched up.’ The increases were within the margin of error, meaning there was little difference between this spring’s ratings and previous ones this past winter,” Ballard said.

“President Trump’s favorable ratings continue to edge upward,” Ballard said. Of those answering SOSS questions, 31.5 percent awarded Trump an “excellent” or “good” grade. He won 28 percent and 29.2 percent favorable ratings in the two previous surveys.

In contrast, 21.7 percent of Michigan residents gave Trump a “fair” rating and 46.8 percent gave him a “poor” review.

The assessments were lower than those received by Presidents Bill Clinton and  Barack Obama, but higher than President George W. Bush won in his last two years in office, Ballard said.

Snyder’s ratings were up as well, with 30 percent of the survey’s respondents giving him an “excellent” or “good” review. It was the first time since 2015 that the governor’s favorable ratings have topped 30 percent.

“Snyder’s ratings have been mostly ‘fair’ since he came to office,” Ballard said. In this survey, 37.4 percent of those assessing his performance gave him a “fair” rating. Another 31.8 percent gave him a “poor” grade.

SOSS is hosted by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research in MSU’s College of Social Science. Students, faculty, and researchers on and off campus are invited to submit questions. More information about SOSS is available here.

MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 105.1 FM and AM 870.

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