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GVSU economist: summer still on solid footing

  • A photo of the Seidman College of Business building in Grand Rapids.

Posted on July 09, 2018

The local economy continues to maintain solid growth, while some area business leaders express concern about an impending tariff war, said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in Grand Valley State University's Seidman College of Business. 

Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of June. 

The survey's index of business improvement (new orders) came in at +33, up from +30. The production index rose to +39 from +37. The index of purchases also increased to +27 from +19, and the employment index remains strong at +30. 

"Many local manufacturers are worried that this tariff war is going to come down in the form of higher prices and lack of availability of some of the key commodities, like steel and aluminum, that are needed by local businesses," said Long. "The office furniture industry, which uses a lot of steel, and the aerospace industry, which uses aluminum, could be especially impacted by the new tariffs."

Long said local farmers who sell produce like blueberries and cherries worldwide are also worried about tariff wars. He also said local business owners feel positive about the future.

"Unemployment is down to 2.9 percent in Kent County and 2.7 percent Ottawa County, which is the county with the lowest unemployment in all of Michigan's 83 counties," he said. 

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.