Survey Shows That Michigan is More Optimistic About Future Economic Conditions Than the Nation Overall - American Society of Employers - Kevin Marrs

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Survey Shows That Michigan is More Optimistic About Future Economic Conditions Than the Nation Overall

optimisticIn the just released 2021 National Business Trends Survey from the Employer Associations of America (EAA), 44% of executives expect the overall outlook for the 2021 economy to be improving. This annual survey shares information on what executives nationally are doing to address the changing business climate. Survey responses also reflect the impact COVID-19 has had on this year’s business trends.

When executives were asked if the overall U.S. economy in the next 12 months will “improve, stay the same, or decline,” the largest segment of respondents (44%) think it will improve, as opposed to last year with only 12% planning that the economy would improve. This year, 33% think it will stay the same (last year 52% expected the economy to stay the same). Only 24% think it will decline (compared to 36% in 2020).

“COVID certainly has had a significant impact and perhaps many are feeling that the economy can only get better moving forward into 2021,” said EAA Board of Directors Chair Thoran Towler. “In fact, fueling that optimism, 57% of executives project slight to significant increases in sales and revenue. American businesses are showing their resilience and readiness to tackle today’s challenges and come out stronger than ever before.”

An additional 11 questions were added to this year’s survey regarding COVID-19’s impact on business, addressing employee safety, stay at home/social distancing, work from home/remote work, interviews/training online/remote meetings, hazard pay/bonus, and candidates unwilling to work in the office/field. When asked how concerned respondents are regarding COVID-19 and its impact on business continuity (e.g. supply chain, financial implications, temporary shutdowns), 52% indicated that they are “extremely to moderately concerned.”

Following are the top five measures that executives say they have been or are planning to continue to implement in 2020 and 2021 to address COVID-19 (listed in order of the top responses from 2021).

Measures to address COVID-19

2020 % of Responses

2021 % of Responses

Deep clean/disinfect work areas on a regular basis



Enforce plans/policies regarding employees who become ill or exhibit COVID-19 symptoms while at work



Communicate frequently to employees about self-screening protocols



Increase signage regarding COVID-19 prevention protocols



Enforce plans/policies to accommodate employees

who need to remain home due to underlying health issues



Similar to last year’s survey responses, the top three serious challenges for business executives include:

  • Talent acquisition
  • Talent retention
  • Ability to pay competitive wages

“Ability to pay for benefit costs” and “Cost of regulatory compliance” rounded out the overall top five business challenges facing 2021.

Also noteworthy for 2021 wage/salary strategies, 64% of the executives responding to the survey are planning to award wage/salary increases, along with 29% awarding variable pay bonuses for 2021.

According to 2021 survey responses, following are the top measures that executives say they have been implementing or are planning to continue in 2020 and 2021 to strengthen business results (listed in order of the top 2021 responses).

Top 5 measures

2020 % of Responses

2021 % of Responses

Invest in technology



Invest in equipment



Increase flexible work arrangements



Increase recruiting emphasis



Use data analytics to improve business strategy




In addition, the EAA 2021 National Business Trends Survey breaks results out on a local level as well.  Michigan employers appear slightly more optimistic about future economic conditions than the nation overall.  In fact, half of those surveyed in Michigan think U.S. economy in the next 12 months will improve.   Fewer than two of ten organizations expect conditions to decline.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented enormous challenges to Michigan employers.  It is unclear if this latest surge in COVID-19 cases will derail the sense of optimism seen in this data, but the prospect of effective vaccines should add to the optimism.  Michigan employers and ASE members remain focused on keeping their employees safe while managing their organizations and navigating this pandemic,” said ASE President and CEO, Mary E. Corrado.


Additional Resources

ASE members can access the full report via their ASE Member Dashboard.  Click on My Surveys; the results can be found under Research Reports.  Nonmembers, contact Kevin Marrs, ASE Vice President, at [email protected].


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