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Business Trends: Modestly Stronger

Posted on May 07, 2012

The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy is modestly stronger, 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 April. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, edged up to +24 from +15. In a similar move, the production index advanced to +25 from +13. The employment rose to +20 from +15.

Long said firms continue to complain about the lack of skilled workers to hire. “Three years into the recovery from the recession, everyone is still frustrated with the slow rate of growth, even though everyone also recognizes that growth of any kind is still growth,” he said. 

Long said most of the auto parts producers are still at full capacity, but many are unable to grow and add more to the local economy. He said sales for the office furniture business continue to soften and most industrial distributors had another good month.

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


* Long said he is optimistic about April's report (audio).

* Long said employers continue to complain about the lack of skilled workers (audio).

* Long said there is a shortage of technically skilled workers, like CNC operators (audio).

* Long said the office furniture industry continues to soften (audio).

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