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West Michigan economy remains flat in August, GVSU researcher says

Local manufacturers said the West Michigan economy flattened this summer, according to a monthly survey conducted by a Grand Valley State University researcher. 

Brian Long, director of supply chain management research at GVSU, said his September report of businesses and executives shows conflicting statistics, but the general belief is that the local economy has remained flat through August.

“Our key cyclical industries in West Michigan are automotive, office furniture and, to a lesser degree, aerospace,” Long said. “Aerospace is doing fine and office furniture is a little on the soft side, but not collapsing.

“Automotive is doing OK in advance of what appears to be an almost certain strike. Even then, I think the strike will slow the West Michigan economy somewhat, but not collapse it.”

New orders, the report’s index for business improvement, turned slightly negative from July. On the other hand, the production, or output index, turned significantly positive from July. 

Long said local unemployment rates should see a slight increase, given the responses from his survey.

“For our August survey, the employment index still remains fairly positive, but 13% of the monthly survey respondents reported staff reductions, which is up from 6% in July,” Long said. “This should translate to slightly higher unemployment rates over the next few weeks.”

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

  • New orders index (business improvement): -4 vs. 0 in July
  • Production index (output): 14 vs. -3 in July
  • Employment index: 2 vs. 7 in July
  • Lead times index: -14 vs. -21 in July

More information about the survey and an archive of past surveys are available on the Seidman College of Business website. Long also recently authored a history of the Current Business Trends survey, which was first conducted in West Michigan in 1960.

If you or a member of your organization would like to contribute to this monthly report, you can connect with Long by completing this short form .