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Optimism over economic outlook declining among Michigan employers

September 13, 2017

By Kevin Marrs, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

According to ASE’s recently released Quarterly Economic & Employment Survey – Second Quarter, Michigan employers have grown less optimistic about their future business outlook compared to data collected earlier this year.  Specifically, the percentage of employers who anticipate improvements to future business conditions is at just 26% – its second lowest point since 2009.
Other Survey Highlights:

  • The percentage of employers who report that their future business outlook has worsened compared to the previous six months is at its highest point since 2009 at 17%.
  • Despite the less optimistic business outlook, the six month employment outlook remains largely unchanged from data collected in the previous quarter.  86% of organizations expect hiring levels to stay the same or increase compared to the past six months.  Nearly a quarter of employers anticipated increased hiring compared to the previous six months.
  • Personal reasons as well as advancement and promotion opportunities continue to be the two highest cited reasons for voluntary separations at 48% and 44% respectively.
  • Exempt turnover was at an all-time high in May at 2.83%.  This typically peaks in the 2nd or 3rd quarter.

The fact that employment outlook has remained strong is not surprising given recent economic news.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that U.S. job openings unexpectedly rose to a record 6.17 million open positions in July, suggesting a resilient demand for workers.  
One area impacting the local labor market is the manufacturing sector led by the automotive industry which typically makes up a significant portion of the sample in this specific survey.  Just 17% of manufacturers in the survey reported maintaining or decreasing hiring levels compared to the previous six months.  Data shows that auto sales are trending lower, which plays an important role in this.  In fact, recent data from J.D. Powers and LMC Automotive, who jointly provide automotive industry market data, indicated that August new vehicle retail sales paces fell to their lowest level so far in 2017 at just 13 million units.  Hiring among the autos played a significant role in the employment recovery seen after the great recession.
About the Survey
121 organizations from across Michigan participated.  Survey respondents were primarily human resource professionals.  Organizations with one to 500 Michigan employees made up more than 85% of the survey sample, while organizations with 501 to 1,000 Michigan employees represented 3.3% of the sample. The remaining 11.6% of the sample comes from organizations with more than 1,000 Michigan employees.  A variety of industries are represented, with manufacturing organizations representing just over 62% of the survey sample.

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