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GVSU economist: Positive growth continues

  • Seidman College of Business

Posted on November 08, 2017

The West Michigan economy continues to show positive growth, and the national industrial economy remains very strong, according to a Grand Valley State University expert.

"This is probably as good as it's going to get," said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. "If we continue this way to 2019, it will be the longest post-war recovery in history without sliding into another recession."

Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of October. See the full report here.

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) remained positive at +11, but declined from +21 in September. The production index posted a modest gain, rising from +17 to +20. The index of purchases rose to +21 from +14, and the employment index remained positive at +14, down from +17. 

Long said most of the auto parts suppliers are still maintaining their present status, with a similar mood noted among the office furniture firms. He said October was generally a good month for industrial distributors. 

The local index of employment remained double-digit positive, while the official unemployment rate nationally has fallen to 4.1 percent. "That’s only a breath away from the 20-year low of 3.8 percent," said Long. 

The national industrial economy also remains very strong, according to Long. 

"U.S. manufacturing stepped up a gear at the start of the fourth quarter, boding well for higher factory production to support robust economic growth in the closing months of 2017," he said. "Production volumes jumped higher and growth in factory jobs picked up to one of the strongest levels since the global financial crisis, underscoring the improvement in optimism about future trading among manufacturers."

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region's major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as "same," "up" or "down." 

For more information, contact Brian Long at (269) 323-2359.


Long said October was another month of slow growth, but consistent growth.

Long said last fall the economy was sluggish because of the upcoming election; this year is better.

Long said West Michigan is seeing a gradual and orderly decline in auto sales which has allowed the industry to adjust, plus, there is still growth.

Long said unemployment numbers are good but don’t tell the whole story.

Long said West Michigan has reached full employment.