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Current Business Trends: Not as robust

Posted on November 04, 2010

The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy is still good but 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. 

The survey results are based on data collected in the last two weeks of October. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, remained positive but eased to +15 from +33. In a similar move, the production index eased to +19 from +36. The index of purchases backtracked to +9 from +28. The employment index moderated to +21, down from +44.

Long said this month’s report shows that the Greater Grand Rapids economy is still growing, but the pace has slowed from the previous month. “So far, it looks like this trend may continue for a few more months.  But growth is still growth, even if it is a little slower,” Long said.  

Long said the office furniture business turned in a mixed performance for the month. “Although there are no obvious new problems with the market for office furniture, the industry is blessed with the revival of the industrial market, but cursed by the prevailing slow rate of overall economic growth,” he said. Long noted that automotive parts suppliers are still doing well.

Other economic news included the decline of Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to 13.0 from 13.1. Long said any decline in the unemployment rate is good news, but this month’s reduction by only .1 percent underscores the slow pace of Michigan’s recovery from the recession.

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

Call Dottie Barnes at (616) 331-2221 to arrange interviews with Long.


* Brian Long says small growth is still growth and that is significant (audio).

* Long says the office furniture industry showed a mixed performance (audio).

* Long says the current recovery is much slower than past recessions (audio).

* Long says Michigan lags the nation in recovering because of the automotive industry (audio).

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