West Michigan Industrial Economy Improves In December

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The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

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GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan industrial economy continues to experience 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 December.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, advanced to +18, up from +13. The production index rose to +12, up from +7. The employment index remained positive but retreated to +19, down from +24, indicating a slightly weaker job market, but one where many employers continue adding jobs.

“The December reports are always somewhat skewed because of the holiday season,” said Long. “Some auto parts suppliers took two weeks of downtime, but most only took a few days because of strong demand. Just as last month, our industrial distributors were strong. The office furniture firms are still holding on to recent gains, but the strong upward momentum has stopped.”

Long said the national unemployment rate should continue to edge lower, but will still end the year in the 8 percent to 8.5 percent range. He said unemployment in Michigan will probably drop faster than the national rate if the automotive industry continues to improve.

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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