Seidman survey: Key local economic indicators rebound in March

Front facade of the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus.
A report from the Seidman College of Business shows fluctuating opinions from local businesses about the state of the West Michigan economy.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

A March survey of local purchasing managers reflects their fluctuating beliefs regarding the state of the West Michigan economy. Survey leader Brian Long, director of supply management research at Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business, sees three trends emerging from his March Current Business Trends report for the region.

The report shows rebounds in the new orders index (business improvement), production index (output) and the employment index, even as the national economy remains flat.

Reports over the past several months had shown shifting results. Long said the December report dipped downward, followed by a January report that showed improvements, with the February report sliding back, only for the March report to tick upward. 

“Looking at the same data, reputable economic forecasters could often come up with very different conclusions,” Long said. “According to some of these forecasts from just a few months ago, we should already be in a recession.

“Clearly, we are not even though some aspects of our economy are obviously beginning to slow.”

In his report, Long said it appears supply chains are returning to the pre-pandemic levels, and for automotive parts producers, the future business outlook remains positive. While the market may be softening for other industries like office furniture makers and construction, Long said a sharp drop is not expected. 

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

  • New orders index (business improvement): +2 versus -17 in February
  • Production index (output): +13 versus -7 in February
  • Employment index: +13 versus +12 in February
  • Lead times index: +2 versus -19 in February

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


Sign up and receive the latest Grand Valley headlines delivered to your email inbox each morning.