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Current business trends: slow growth continues

Posted on July 08, 2014

Slow growth continues for the greater Grand Rapids industrial economy, according to 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 June. See full report here.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, edged up to +23, from +20, still down from April’s +40, but respectable. The production index jumped back to +30 from +16, which corresponds to the June uptick recorded in previous years. The employment index remained in double digits at +15, up from +14 and the index of purchases rose nicely to +19 from +9.

“The automotive components manufacturers remain strong, although a couple firms seem to have been disappointed with business that was supposed to materialize but didn’t,” said Long. “The office furniture business remains stable but flat, and contrary to some forecasts, is not vastly exceeding last year’s performance. Smaller office furniture firms are doing better than their larger counterparts. Industrial distributors came in with a mixed performance and capital equipment firms are stable, but some are doing very well at this stage in the business cycle.”

Long said Kent County has the lowest unemployment rate (5.2 percent) among all 83 Michigan counties. Second place is claimed jointly by Barry and Ottawa counties at 5.3 percent and Kalamazoo County is in 11th place, posting a 6.1 percent unemployment rate for May.

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 business optimism made an unexpected drop (audio).

* Long said business optimism will improve with better news locally and nationally (audio).

* Long said the GDP came in far lower than anticipated (audio).

* Long said unemployment is lower in West Michigan (audio).

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