West Michigan economy stalls after four-month growth, says GVSU survey

West Michigan’s four-month streak of positive economic growth came to an end in June, according to data and surveys conducted by a Grand Valley researcher.

Brian Long, director of supply management research at the Seidman College of Business, said his monthly survey of local businesses and purchasing managers reflected sharp declines in two key indices. 

“New orders, our index of business improvement, dropped to its lowest level in six months,” Long said. “Of course, this means over the longer term, production is going to drop. Now, one month's drop does not constitute a trend, but we're going to have to watch next month's numbers very closely.”

The purchases index, which reflects activity in purchasing offices, saw a similar drop. Long attributed the declines to firms building up their inventories during the period of chronic issues with their supply chains a few months ago. Those companies stopped stocking their inventories in May, and increased their liquidation of inventory in June, Long said.

One industry facing a lot of uncertainty for 2025 is the automotive industry, Long said. The backlog of electric vehicles (EVs) in dealer lots could ripple through local manufacturers. 

“West Michigan's largest cyclical industry is automotive, and we don't assemble cars in West Michigan, but we have numerous firms that produce components and complete assemblies like seats and dashboards, MacPherson struts and those kinds of things,” Long said. “Especially for the firms that are supplying EVs, the news of the dealer lots starting to fill with an overflow of EVs is certainly not good news.”

One of the survey’s metrics, the employment index, did see an uptick for June, prompting Long to issue a caveat. 

“Now, employment and unemployment are classic laggard statistics, meaning that they follow the economy, not lead the economy, but for most of our West Michigan counties, the unemployment rate is still going down,” Long said. “Our survey respondents say that they still have open positions, but that they are easier to fill than they were a year ago.”

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

  • New orders index (business improvement): -21 vs. +5 in May
  • Production index (output): -2 vs. +2 in in May
  • Employment index: +10 vs. +7 in May
  • Lead times index: -18 vs. -19 in May

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


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