West Michigan Business Climate Modestly Positive, Improving

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The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan industrial economy is experiencing modestly positive growth, 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 during the last two weeks of November. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, advanced to +13 from +9. The production index remained virtually unchanged but retreated to +7 from +8. The employment index posted a gain, rising to +24 from +15.

In the index, numbers above zero indicate an expanding economy, and numbers below zero indicate a contracting one. The farther the number is above or below zero, the better or worse the conditions.

Long said Michigan still has the automotive parts producers to thank for the positive numbers. He said second strongest group for November was industrial distributors, many of whom appear to be having a good year. He said the office furniture firms appear to be plateauing at the current level.

“The auto industry continues to strengthen,” said Long. “Since much of Michigan’s recession recovery can be attributed to the auto parts suppliers and assemblers, it is especially gratifying to see industry sales for November rise by 14 percent, up from October’s increase of 8 percent.”

Long said the other big economic news for November was the drop in the national unemployment rate to 8.6 percent from 9 percent.

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.

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