Local economy continues slow growth

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"Growing, but still slowing," is how a Grand Valley State University economist described the local economy for September. 

Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business, surveyed local business leaders and his findings are based on data collected during the last two weeks of September. See full report here.

For the first time since 2009, the employment index turned negative at -3, down from +7 in August and down even more from the +25 reported in July. 

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) edged up to +13 from +5. The production index rose to +12 from +3, and the index of purchases dropped to +0 from +12.

"The world and U.S. economies are continuing to slow, so it stands to reason that we can expect at least some flattening at the local level as well," said Long.

Long said despite new types of firms coming to West Michigan, the local economy is still heavily dependent on automotive parts producers, office furniture and aerospace for growth.  

"All three of these industries reported stable conditions for September, although a couple of respondents noted a significant uptick for the month," said Long. "Some of our capital equipment firms are starting to feel the pinch from foreign competition and are no longer as optimistic. As a group, our industrial distributors reported business conditions for September to be the same as August." 

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region's major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as "same," "up" or "down." An expanded version of this report can be found in the dropbox link provided above under media note.

For more information, contact Brian Long at (269) 323-2359.


Long said the local economy is dependent on the success of the automotive and furniture industries (audio).

* Long said the employment index dipped to negative numbers for the first time in several years (audio).

* Long said he isn’t worried about the negative employment index (audio).

* Long said the big picture looks good for local employment (audio).

* Long said the overall employment outlook is strong in West Michigan (audio).