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GVSU economist: A significant bounce in February

  • Seidman College of Business

Posted on March 06, 2018

The West Michigan economy was stronger than expected in January, and February was even better, according to 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 February. See the full report here.

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) rose to +32 from +23. The production index edged up to +31 from +24. The index of purchases rose modestly to +22 from +18, and the employment index fell to +16, from +20.  

"The positive result of the recent tax reform legislation has been a boom to the capital equipment manufacturers," said Long. "Although there are a few exceptions, most of these firms report being recently swamped with new orders."

Long said slower auto sales remain a concern to the automotive parts producers, but most remain stable, and a few are still growing. He said the same is true of the office furniture firms. 

"Most are topping out, but a couple of the smaller firms are expanding," he said. "February was a great month for the industrial distributors, however, almost all of the manufacturing firms continue to be constrained by an inability to find new workers to fill open positions." 

Long said while the threat of a trade war sparked a significant short-term panic in the stock market, the overall trend remains positive, and the prospect for a good 2018 remains on track. 

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 the February bounce in the local economy was caused by tax reform.

Long said it's uncertain whether the uptick in numbers will hold or continue.

Long said the stock market will remain positive unless there is a trade war.

Long said interest rates will likely increase in 2018.