UM survey: State's local economies still struggling with COVID impacts

The Detroit News

Local governments in Michigan continue to struggle with the impacts of COVID-19 but at a lower rate than when the pandemic started in the spring of last year, according to a University of Michigan survey released Wednesday.

As of spring 2021, 39% of local officials reported significant or crisis-level effects, compared with 86% who reported severe economic impacts at the start of the pandemic a year earlier.

Local governments in 75% of the state's largest jurisdictions say they have taken or plan to take action to support businesses. Efforts include promoting small businesses (21%), extending payment deadlines (19%), and creating more space for social distancing such as closing local roads and issuing permits for outdoor dining (17%). 

The Michigan Public Policy Survey was conducted from April 5 to June 7 by the Ford School of Public Policy's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

"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 do before local governments feel they have fully emerged," the center's executive director, Tom Ivacko, said in a statement.   

Officials from 1,364 local jurisdictions responded to the spring survey, which is conducted with the Michigan Association of Counties, Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Townships Association.