Flowers bloom on the lawn in front of the L. William Seidman Center in downtown Grand Rapids.

Seidman survey: West Michigan economic signals remain positive despite headwinds

Auto industry buoys area manufacturers

There’s no sign of recession – at least, not yet.

That’s the conclusion of the June survey of West Michigan manufacturers, which showed a slowdown, but mostly positive signals despite expectations around the country of an economic slump.

“Even though our local survey of business conditions is still positive, at the national level both of the major surveys have turned negative and one of them has turned sharply negative,” said Brian Long, director of supply chain management research at Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business. “This indicates that other parts of the country are beginning to slide as far as the economic picture is concerned, not necessarily yet to a recession, but still they are softening.”

The Current Business Trends survey in June showed new orders, production and employment continued to be in positive territory, though the orders and production indices softened from the May survey.

Once again Long attributed West Michigan’s resiliency to the automotive industry as it continues to deal with a backlog that he thinks could last for another year. While office furniture, another key West Michigan industry, is seeing a slowdown, the sector hasn’t collapsed, he said.

“Even if we do slide into a recession, the chances are it may not affect West Michigan nearly as much as it does other places in the country,” Long said.

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

  • New orders index (sales): +9 versus +19 in May
  • Production index (output): +6 versus +13 in May
  • Employment index: +14 versus +13 in May
  • Lead times index: -17 versus -2 in May

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