West Michigan's economy continues sluggish pace: GVSU researcher

Exterior shot of Seidman College of Business
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Despite showing some modest gains, the West Michigan economy continued its sluggish pace through November, according to a Grand Valley researcher and his monthly survey of local businesses and manufacturers. 

Brian Long, director of supply management at GVSU’s Seidman College of Business, said while there have been upticks in key indices, the local economic forecast remains modestly negative.

“The Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates for what is now almost two years,” Long said. “But according to the (recent) survey results that we've just tabulated for West Michigan, the economy continues to slow in a fairly orderly fashion. 

“And despite the higher interest rates, there is still no immediate sign of a recession waiting for us in the next several months.” 

Long said while unemployment numbers have remained relatively stable, the employment numbers of his survey have turned negative for the last two months while 20 percent of survey respondents reported workforce reductions.

“Unemployment is a classic laggard statistic, so it's no surprise that our employment situation in West Michigan remains relatively stable at this time,” Long said. “So the laggard effect of the unofficial unemployment statistics probably won't show up for another two or three months.”

Long forecasts strong auto sales into 2024 as auto parts suppliers should stay busy following the end of the United Auto Workers strike in late October.

“Probably by mid 2024 the pent-up demand will eventually be met, and the market will probably turn more competitive again, and it may even suffer from oversaturation,” Long said.

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

  • New orders index (business improvement): -10 vs. -13 in October
  • Production index (output): -4 vs. -4 in October
  • Employment index: -5 vs. -10 in October
  • Lead times index: -8 vs. -17 in October

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


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