Current Business Trends: continuing to improve

Brian Long
Brian Long
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The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy is gaining strength, while the national economy is far less robust, 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.

Long said the survey results are based on data collected during the last two weeks of June.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, fell insignificantly to +34, down from +35. The production index came in at +31, from last month’s +35. The employment index backtracked to +25 from +28.

“The local automotive parts suppliers continue to be optimists, largely because of the booming auto sales,” said Long. “Sales for June posted a 9 percent gain over a year earlier, and an 8 percent increase for the first half of the year. Also, the recovery of home values in turn fuels a recovery in consumer confidence. Higher consumer confidence results in more consumer spending, which especially helps the auto industry.”

Long said although the local employment index backtracked modestly, it is obvious that many area firms are still adding staff. He said June normally results in unemployment rates edging up because of the new wave of workers from colleges and high schools. He said, overall, West Michigan continues to post better unemployment rates than the state or nation.  

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 75 West Michigan participants. 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 www.gvsu.edu/scblogistics.

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