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Business trends: Growth slows for the summer

Posted on September 04, 2014

Slow growth continues for the greater Grand Rapids industrial economy, according to results of a monthly survey compiled by Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business.

The survey results are based on data collected during the last two weeks of August.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, eased to +9 from +18. The production index remained strong at +22 from +25. The employment index rose to a 16-month high of +26, up from +15, and the index of purchases eased to +5 from +19.

Statistics for business optimism continue to show stabilization, according to Long. He noted the short-term business outlook index eased to +20, down from +27. However, the long-term business outlook posted a modest increase to +42, up from +34. Long said the level of optimism for this index has retreated considerably in recent months, given the +64 reported less than a year ago.  

“The automotive parts producers are in full swing for the 2015 model year, although a few have expressed reservations about production schedules for early 2015,” said Long. “The office furniture business remains positive, but just like last month, the smaller firms are outpacing the larger ‘integrated’ firms. August is usually an off month for the industrial distributors, so it was good to see that most firms reported business to be fairly steady this year.”     

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.” An expanded version of this report and details of the methodology used to compile it are available at

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


Long said slow growth for August isn't unusual (audio).

Long said auto parts producers are in full swing for 2015 (audio).

Long said business optimism is not as positive (audio).

Long said local numbers are softer because of the European economy (audio).


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