West Michigan Biz Index Shows Growth

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The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

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The West Michigan industrial economy continues to grow, 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. 

The survey results are based on data collected in the last two weeks of April. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, moderated to +29, down from +38. In a similar move, the production index eased to +35 from +39. The index of purchases rose significantly to +51 from +34. The employment index also posted a nice gain and rose to +46 from +35.

Long said 50 percent of firms surveyed are still adding personnel and despite this month’s moderation in new orders, the growth rate for the local economy appears to be stabilizing at a moderate rate. He said there have been 23 consecutive months of positive reports since the recovery began in 2009.

“Despite our lofty employment index, our local industrial sector has not had nearly the impact on our local unemployment statistics as we would like,” Long said. “In this same light, the strength in the industrial sector has had little or no impact on the seemingly never-ending housing and construction crisis.”  

Long said local automotive parts suppliers continue to do well; none have reported any impact from the Japanese disaster. The report from the office furniture sector is still positive, but there are signs that the industry may be plateauing at the current level. 

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 purchasing managers 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.

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