Published: March 28, 2013

Michigan divided over right-to-work

Contact(s): Cynthia Kyle IPPSR office: (517) 353-1731, Charles Ballard Department of Economics office: (517) 353-2961

As Michigan becomes the nation’s 24th right-to-work state, its residents remain sharply divided over whether the new law will hurt or help the economy, Michigan State University’s latest State of the State Survey shows.

Of the 1,013 Michigan adults surveyed this winter, 42.7 percent said they
believe the new law will help the economy. Another 41 percent said it will hurt.

“That’s a statistical dead heat,” said Charles Ballard, MSU professor of
economics and State of the State Survey director.

Right-to-work measures were passed and signed into law in early December and took effect March 28, 90 days after the legislative session ended.

Notably, those who said the new laws would “hurt a lot” - 22.5 percent - outnumbered those who said it would “help a lot” - 17.2 percent, Ballard said.

Of respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, 74.2 percent said the new laws would help the state’s economy.

Only 24.8 percent of Democrats said right-to-work measures would help
Michigan. Among independents, 42.3 percent said right to work will help the economy.

Union members were considerably more pessimistic than non-union members. Among union members, 74 percent said right to work would hurt the economy. Of those not affiliated with a union, 46 percent said right to work would help the economy.

The state was divided geographically too. Among respondents in the region including Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, 38.2 percent said the law would help the economy. In Grand Rapids, 52.6 percent said the law would help.

Of those who believe right to work will help the state “a lot,” 70 percent have a favorable view of Gov. Rick Snyder, who favored the change in law, versus 7 percent of those who think it will hurt “a lot.”

Michigan residents’ views of Snyder’s performance changed little during the winter quarter, falling from 35.5 percent to 34 percent, Ballard said.

President Obama gained slightly during the winter, Ballard said.

Michigan residents rating President Obama’s performance as excellent or good increased from 42.8 percent in the previous survey to the current 48.4 percent.

The quarterly telephone survey carried a margin of error of about 3 percent. It was conducted between Jan. 14 and March 4. MSU’s Office for Survey Research, a part of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, conducted the survey.


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