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Current business trends: Continued slow growth

Posted on December 05, 2013

The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy continues to grow slowly, 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 November.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, remained virtually unchanged at +16, up from +15. The production index remained the same at +13, and the employment index resumed its pattern of modest growth and rose to +9 from +0.

“For the 34th time since the recovery began, it can be concluded that slow growth for the West Michigan economy continues, and probably will continue for the foreseeable future,” said Long. “As we enter the third month of collecting our new ‘outlook’ statistics, the numbers are starting to bounce around a little as attitudes and perceptions shift.”  

For November, the short-term business outlook index rose significantly to +29 from +17, and the long-term business outlook index advanced to +53 from +46.   
Long said the office furniture firms posted one of the best months of the year. “The recent uptick in office rentals around the country have translated to the purchase of new, more modern office furniture,” Long said.   

Long also noted a study released this month from NerdWallet, an internet-based personal finance consumer advocacy group. The study of employment labor markets, called “The Ten Best Places in Michigan for Job Seekers,” names three West Michigan cities: Kentwood (5), Wyoming (8), and Portage (9).   

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.

Listen to an interview with Long here.


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