Economics expert: West Michigan recovery picks up steam

L. William Seidman Center.
L. William Seidman Center.
Image Credit: Valerie Hendrickson

The West Michigan industrial economy ended 2020 on a positive note, said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business.

Long said so far, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases has not dampened the industrial economy in West Michigan. 

“By mandating face masks, dividing work areas for social distancing and devoting crews to perpetual cleaning, many of our local firms have resumed near-normal operations,” said Long. “The incoming Biden administration is inheriting an economy headed in the right direction, so it is unlikely we will see any immediate changes inhibiting the recovery.”

Long said employers continue to complain that supply chains, both foreign and domestic, are still far from getting back to normal. He said trucking companies are still reporting shortages of trucks and drivers, and delays in the inspection of incoming overseas containers are still being reported. 

The success of recently shipped vaccines has boosted morale, but Long said there is universal agreement that the problem posed by the pandemic will not go away until vaccines reach a large portion of the population.

Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of December.

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) jumped to +31, up from +19. The production index bounced to +33, up sharply from +2. The index of purchases closed out the year at +26, up from +9, and the employment index rose to +11, up from +4.

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."

For more information, contact Brian Long at (269) 870-0428.