GVSU survey shows optimism for West Michigan economy

Exterior photo of Seidman Center's front facade
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

A monthly survey conducted by a Grand Valley State University researcher shows an upswing in optimism among area businesses and manufacturers regarding the West Michigan economy.

Brian Long, director of supply management research at GVSU’s Seidman College of Business, said he tracked several positive trends from local businesses in his latest survey. 

“The surprise in February’s survey turned out to be the new wave of optimism we are receiving,” Long said. “Our index of business confidence came in at a two-year high, and the comments from our survey participants were also upbeat for the first time in quite a few months.”

One significant metric tracked by Long — the new orders index, which tracks business improvement — saw a sizable increase in February compared to its January rating. Another of Long’s key metrics — the production index, which measures output from the manufacturing sector — also rose within the same timeframe.

Much as we expected, the downtick in January we reported last month turned out to be a one-off event,” Long said. “February’s numbers came in with what we could best describe as flat, but headed in the right direction, namely up.”

Long said national and international surveys of purchasing managers also indicate an upswell of confidence, reducing the likelihood of a recession in 2024.  

“With our February numbers as positive as they are, it seems obvious that barring a ‘black swan’ event, a recession is clearly not just around the corner or even probable for the rest of 2024,” Long said. 

“However, we've averaged a recession every six years or so since the end of World War II, so we're kidding ourselves if we don't think that there's another recession out there somewhere.”

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

  • New orders index (business improvement): +3 vs. -26 in January
  • Production index (output): -10 vs. -20 in January
  • Employment index: -7 vs. -7 in January
  • Lead times index: -5 vs. -7 in January

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


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