Yellow spring flowers booming outside of the Seidman building in downtown Grand Rapids.

GVSU survey shows economy flattening, concerns rise over employment picture

Report shows caution growing in industrial sector, predicts unemployment to grow in late summer

West Michigan manufacturers continue to signal a slowing economy as Grand Valley’s closely watched monthly survey showed continued softness and increased caution.

“We are well aware that the office furniture business remains soft, and we had hoped that the pent-up demand in automotive would help keep the West Michigan economy afloat, even if other economic segments soften,” said Brian Long, the survey’s author and director of supply chain management research at the Seidman College of Business. “Although one month does not make a trend, we now need to be a little more cautious going forward.”

While some key survey measures in the Current Business Trends report Long titled “Return to Flat Growth” saw little movement from the data released in April, the employment and production indices were lower than last month’s more rosy outlook.

Long said while the percentage of companies indicating they are adding jobs remained positive, there could be clouds on the horizon.

“Based on the current state of the economy, we can expect the unemployment rate for West Michigan to begin rising late in the summer,” he wrote.

Here’s a look at the key index results from April’s survey of West Michigan manufacturers:

  • New orders index (business improvement): +0 versus +2 in March
  • Production index (output): +5 versus +13 in March
  • Employment index: +3 versus +13 in March
  • Lead times index: +3 versus +2 in March

More information about the survey and an archive of past surveys are available on Seidman’s website.


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