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Current business trends: Slow growth continues

Posted on August 07, 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 at Grand Valley State University. See full report here.

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

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, eased to +18 from +23. The production index tapered to +25 from +30. The employment index remained stable, unchanged at +15, and the index of purchases remained unchanged at +19.

“Locally, the pattern established in 2009 as the recession recovery began remains virtually unchanged,” said Long. “The automotive parts producers continue to provide much of the drive behind the recent economic growth, although some firms have clearly done better than others. Several are continuing to expand, while others prefer maintaining their present size.”

Long said the office furniture business remains positive, with some of the smaller firms outpacing their larger counterparts. He said while industrial distributors had a very good month, the capital equipment industry appears to be having some difficulties. “There is no evidence that the weakness demonstrated by some firms is the beginning of a downward trend,” he said.

The statistics for business optimism are showing signs of stabilization after last month’s unexpected drop, according to Long. He noted the short-term business outlook index rose to +27, up from last month’s +21. However, the long-term business outlook edged lower to +34, down from +36. Long said the level of pessimism for this index has grown considerably, given the +64 reported less than a year ago.

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 economists are keeping an eye on Iraq (audio).

* Long said China's economy is improving which is good for West Michigan (audio).

* Long said the furniture industry is showing sustainable growth (audio).

* Long said the auto industry is selling more cars than economists like (audio).

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