Current business trends best in two years

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The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy is “stronger,” according to the 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.

Long said the survey results, based on data collected during the last two weeks of April, show the best economic report in two years.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, rose to +31, up from +23, the highest the index has been since March of 2011. The production index also posted a nice gain at +34, up +22. However, the employment index backtracked to +22 from +26, probably because of the laggard effect of the softer sales and production numbers posted in late 2012.  

“It sounds like a broken record, but the auto parts suppliers are still underwriting the strength of the Michigan economy, as well as our economy in West Michigan,” said Long. “Auto sales remain strong, resulting in production schedules continuing to be revised upward. Local firms are also having the good fortune in selling to the transplant firms, which speaks well of the price and quality being offered by our local firms.”

Long said most local capital equipment firms are busy, but getting potential buyers to actually buy continues to be difficult. He said most of the industrial distributors flattened out this month with the office furniture firms stable at the current level, but hoping the improving economy will result in stronger sales as the year progresses. He said some of the smaller office furniture firms are already seeing an uptick.   

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 www.gvsu.edu/scblogistics.

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

DOWNLOADABLE AUDIO

* Long said this is the best economic report in two years (audio).

* Long said credit for the good report goes to the auto industry (audio).

* Long said the auto industry is adding jobs across the board (audio).

* Long said national numbers aren't looking as good (audio).