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Current business trends show slow growth

Posted on March 12, 2014

The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy experienced continued slow growth, according to the results of a monthly survey compiled by Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University.

The survey results are based on data collected during the last two weeks of February. See the full report here.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, advanced to +19 from +14. The production index posted a bigger gain, rising to +18 from +7. The employment index remained double digits at +10, although marginally lower than last month’s +12. Activity in the purchasing offices picked up considerably, and the index of purchases advanced to +16 from +6.

“The integrated office furniture companies are still in a winter slump, probably because of orders that were placed back in November and December to use up funds before the end of the year,” said Long. “However, several of specialty office and steel furniture fabricators had a much better month.”

Long said auto parts firms turned in a mixed performance, but the bias was still to the up side. “Any of the industrial distributors that support heavy equipment had a very busy February, helping repair snow removal vehicles,” said Long. “Other distributors remained steady. Overall, most firms reported being slightly busier in February than January.”

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 and details of the methodology used to compile it are available at

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


* Long said employment numbers are improving very slowly (audio).

* Long said auto sales slipped a bit in February (audio).

* Long said office furniture sales for February were soft (audio).

* Long said the long, hard winter has put a crimp on retail sales (audio).


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