The lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Michigan communities and local governments

October 2021

This report presents local government leaders’ views on the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan in 2021, including overall impacts on local communities, evaluations of governmental coordination and resource provision, and expectations for how long negative impacts will persist. These findings are based on statewide surveys of local government leaders in the Spring 2021 wave of the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), conducted between April 5 and June 7, 2021, and includes comparisons to Spring 2020 wave responses.

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Key findings

  • Considering the full range of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic— from public health to the economy, residents’ welfare, public service delivery, and more—30% of Michigan local leaders say their local communities are still suffering significant (28%) or crisis-level (2%) impacts overall, as of spring 2021. However, this is down sharply from the beginning of the pandemic a year ago, when 67% said their communities were experiencing significant (12%) or crisis-level (55%) impacts overall. 
    • The state’s largest jurisdictions, and particularly counties, as well as  jurisdictions in the Upper Peninsula are the most likely to report that their local communities still have significant or crisis-level impacts from COVID-19.
    • More than a third of local leaders statewide continue to report significant or crisis-level impacts from COVID-19 specifically on their local economy (39%) and residents’ welfare (34%), while 31% say there continue to be such negative impacts on local public health. These percentages have also fallen substantially compared with reports in 2020. 
    • Just 12% of local governments statewide report that the continuity of their public services continues to suffer substantial impacts due to the pandemic. However, 25% indicate that their governments’ local officials and employees continue to struggle with serious negative impacts on their work experiences, including on morale, mental health, and sense of job security. 
  • Compared with last year, fewer local leaders report effective coordination between their jurisdiction and various units of their county government (51% now vs. 59% in 2020), units of the state government (30% now vs. 39% last year), or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services specifically (36% now vs. 40% last year). 
  • Overall, 40% of local leaders say their jurisdictions are getting the public health resources they need from the state or federal government to address the pandemic (up from 26% and 35% last year, respectively). Meanwhile, 34% say they are getting the financial resources needed from the state or federal government (up from 22% and 21%, last year). 
    • Local leaders’ top priorities for spending federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) include infrastructure (62%), assistance for local businesses (47%) and community-wide public services (44%). 
  • Concerns about ongoing economic impacts are growing. Overall, 36% of local leaders expect negative economic impacts to last at least another full year, up from 27% who felt this way last year. 

Impact on local communities


Percent of Michigan local leaders who say their community is suffering significant or crisis-level impacts overall from COVID-19 as of spring 2021. Spring 2021 MPPS

Public health resources


The percentage of local leaders who say their jurisdictions are getting the public health resources they need from the state or federal government to address the pandemic has increased since spring 2020. Spring 2021 MPPS

Lasting economic impacts


More than one-third of local leaders expect negative economic impacts to last at least another full year, up from 27% who felt this way last year. Spring 2021 MPPS