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Current Business Trends: Growth Stabilizes

Posted on April 05, 2011

The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy has stabilized, 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 in the last two weeks of March. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, moderated to +38, down from +45. In a similar move, the production index eased to +39 from +41. The index of purchases edged up to +34 from +33. The employment index also edged up to +37 from +35.

Long said 41 percent of the firms surveyed said they are adding personnel. “Overall, the growth rate for the local economy appears to have stabilized at a moderate rate, and confirms many of the other positive numbers that have been posted in the local media,” said Long. “We have now posted 22 months of positive reports since the recovery began in 2009. The bad news is that this is still the slowest post-war recession recovery in history.”
Long said the recovery of the office furniture industry is still very much on track and the excellent improvement in auto sales has resulted in strong business conditions for local auto parts suppliers. He also said there are some convincing signs that the capital equipment business is on the road to recovery. For March, performance for the industrial distributors was good but not great and performance for the firms supporting the aircraft industry was generally stable, but not growing, according to Long.

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 purchasing managers 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


Brian Long said the local economy has stabilized (audio).

Long said 41 percent of area firms reported adding personnel in March (audio).

Long said the bad news is the recovery continues to be slow (audio).

Long said stabilization is good news (audio).

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