GR Economy Growing Modestly, ISM Report Says

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The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

GRAND RAPIDS — The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy saw modest positive growth over the past month, according to the results of a 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 February. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, edged up to +16 from +9. The production index rose to +12 from +7. The employment index backtracked to +13 from +26.

“None of our numbers have looked particularly strong, with a couple of months of exceptions a few years ago,” said Long. “Really, over the past year or so, we’ve just seen some very plodding, but positive numbers. All we can hope for is continued positive growth.”

Long said the February data follows the same pattern that’s been unfolding since the recovery began almost three years ago. He also said automotive parts producers have helped to buoy the results, and last month confirmed the trend. The office furniture business is still flat or slower, depending on specific furniture types.

At the national level, results continue to improve. New orders edged up to +19 from +15, and the production index jumped from +7 to +20, one of the biggest gains since last April. Good news also came from the employment index, which rose to +10 from +5.

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

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