GVSU economics expert: Economy continues to grow, employment better in sectors

aerial photo of Pew Grand Rapids Campus, with carillon tower in front
Brian Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business, said 2021 will be a historic year for the economy. The L. William Seidman Center is pictured in the background.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

West Michigan's April employment rate continues to lag in some sectors but the overall economy continues to grow, according to Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. 

Long's monthly business trends report showed the West Michigan employment rate at +23, down drastically from the +40 reported in March, which was a 10-year high rate, according to Long.

"Except for numerous pockets of weakness in the office furniture business, the West Michigan industrial economy market remains on a roll," Long said. "The major segments of COVID-19 unemployment in West Michigan remain in the entertainment and hospitality industries, not the industrial firms."

Long added that 2 percent of American workers dropped out of the workforce at the start of the recession and are not counted as unemployed. Michigan's unemployment rate for March (the latest reporting month available) edged down to 5.1 from 5.2 percent.

Overall, the economy continues to improve, Long said, as it's fueled by low interest rates, stimulus packages and unprecedented borrowing. 

"By almost any standard, 2021 will be a historic year for the U.S. economy. The average estimates of annual growth are running between 7 and 9 percent, which will be the fastest growth rate in more than 60 years," Long said.

April's survey index of business improvement (new orders) was +46, down slightly from +51. The production index fell to +29, down from +33. The index of purchases was also down, +44 from +51; the employment index fell to +23 from +40.

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.