Area business confidence index highest since 2000

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For the first time since 2000, the projected business confidence index in West Michigan is above 70 percent, according to a Grand Valley State University economics expert.

Paul Isely, professor and interim associate dean of economics in Grand Valley’s Seidman College of Business, revealed the findings of his benchmark survey of the regional economy at the Colliers Annual Economic and Real Estate Forecast January 31 at DeVos Place. The survey of the greater Grand Rapids economy (Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, and Allegan counties) was conducted in November and December 2013.

See the full report here.

“For 2014, organizations expect a 71 percent confidence level, which is the highest reading since December 2000, but still below those reported in the late 1990s,” said Isely. “There has been a steady increase in overall business confidence since the low seen in 2008, and the area business leaders surveyed see this improvement continuing in 2014.”

Isely said increased business confidence means businesses are more likely to hire new workers; employment is expected to grow by 2.7-3.1 percent in 2014.

Isely added that the regional economy is expected to grow faster than the rate seen in 2013. “More than two-thirds of respondents (69 percent) expect to hire this year, which is up from 58 percent last year,” said Isely. “Of those hired, about 76 percent are expected to be permanent workers. This suggests hiring in West Michigan is at a rate faster than the country as a whole.”

Isely also noted Michigan’s economy has been led out of the recession of 2007-2009 by automotive manufacturing.

OVERALL FINDINGS FOR 2014:
• Employment expected to grow by 2.7-3.1%
• Sales expected to increase by 2.4-2.8%
• Exports expected growth between 8-9.2%

For more information, contact Paul Isely at (616) 331-7418.

DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO

* Isely said business services and service sector jobs will see growth (audio).

* Isely said increased confidence means business owners are more likely to hire new workers (audio).

* Isely said a 71 percent business confidence index is noteworthy (audio).

* Isely said the success of the local economy is still very dependent on the auto industry (audio).