West Michigan Works! released the results of its 2022 Michigan talent survey on Dec. 1, 2022. The results of the online survey are helping workforce development teams and employers better understand the current state of the job market and workforce pool in Michigan.

“As a workforce development agency that works with more than 50,000 job seekers per year, West Michigan Works! is proud to share this data with statewide employers and talent development teams,” said Angie Barksdale, chief operating officer, West Michigan Works! “Most talent research is conducted from the employer’s perspective. The Michigan job seeker survey serves to amplify the voice of job seekers in our state.”

Based on the survey data, the barriers to work employees and job seekers identify include childcare availability, age bias, lack of transparency in the application process, and low potential wages and benefits.

The 2021 survey data, which was collected during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, showed apprehension for how employers were directly addressing the health and safety of their employees. However, this year’s respondents were more focused on how employers are addressing the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“As employers decide how to best recruit and retain talent, it is critical for them to adapt to the changing needs of the workforce,” said Barksdale. “We see our partners making this shift. For example, businesses will conduct a wage and benefits analysis to ensure they are keeping up with this ever-changing environment. Those businesses are addressing a concern highlighted in this report – many job seekers are looking for careers that provide a living wage as well as benefits that support them in caring for children or aging parents.”

According to the survey, the highest perceived barrier to finding work is that potential wages are not enough, with 66 percent of respondents saying they either “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree.”

For many respondents, childcare or family care responsibilities pose a barrier to working, citing these responsibilities often limit the times that they can work. More than 77 percent of respondents with children who need childcare said that they “strongly agree” that paying for childcare is a barrier to working.

In addition to potential wages and childcare, survey respondents were more concerned with the lack of transparency throughout the job search process than they were last year. Over 80 respondents (6 percent) in the 2022 survey mentioned an issue with transparent communication around the application process, compared to only 17 respondents (2 percent) in 2021.

Despite their challenges, respondents are more hopeful this year, indicating that they would be more likely to use resources to overcome their barriers at a higher rate than they did last year. Access to appropriate technology and equipment, on-site childcare or financial help for childcare, and rapid retraining were the most cited resources.

“This survey will inform how we strengthen and grow the services and programs we provide to employers and job seekers as we partner with them to eliminate these barriers,” said Barksdale. “The findings will also be used to guide strategic conversations in our Industry Talent Councils as they continue their work to grow our region’s talent pipeline.”

In total, 1,413 respondents completed the 2022 Michigan job seeker survey. Nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated they were currently unemployed, with the remaining third indicating they were currently working.

View the full survey report or view the report’s infographic.