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GVSU economist: 2018 off to a good start

  • Seidman College of Business

Posted on February 06, 2018

The West Michigan economy is starting off on a positive note, according to a Grand Valley State University expert.

"The numbers for January are better than we expected," said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. 

Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of January. The full report can be found here.

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) rose modestly to +23 from +19. The production index edged up to +24 from +22. The index of purchases rose modestly to +18 from +16, and employment rose to +20, from +15.  

Long said automotive parts producers can expect the market to continue to shift away from sedans and in the direction of light trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. He said the office furniture business continues to show signs of topping out, but the current level is both high and profitable. 

"The back-to-work attitudes of the post-holiday season resulted in some modest improvement for our industrial distributors," Long said. "However, this month's big boom is centered on some of the manufacturers of capital equipment. Numerous firms were apparently waiting for the passage of the new tax law before making a firm commitment, so it is not a total surprise to find that a few local firms are swamped with orders."

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 January numbers are stronger than expected with a pick-up in new orders and an increase in employment.

Long said January numbers were stronger than expected because of tax cuts.

Long said local auto parts producers are remaining cautious for now.

Long said the world economy is the strongest it has been in a long time.