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West Michigan Economic Growth Flat

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The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

The downtown Grand Rapids skyline. WWJ file photo.

(credit: istock) Technology Report
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GRAND RAPIDS — The greater Grand Rapids industrial economy is flat, 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 August. The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, returned to 0, up from minus 6. The production index flipped back to positive at plus 5, up from minus 5. The employment index remained unchanged at plus 18, indicating strong hiring.

“Our automotive parts suppliers are still positive, but none are showing the rapid expansion we have had for most of the last three years,” said Long. “Despite the strong sales figures for autos, there are still considerable questions about the automotive production schedules for the rest of the year.

“Most major firms in the office furniture business continue to be stable. Not up, not down, but stable. It‘s possible the office furniture business will finish the year a little stronger than the earlier industry projections. The industrial distributors are also stable for the month. The capital equipment firms are more widely mixed, with some still up, but others fading.”

Long said some of the best news for the month came from the housing sector. “The closely watched Case-Shiller price indices were all up,” said Long. “The 10 Cities Composite, 20 Cities Composite, and the all-important U.S. National Composite indices all turned positive for the first time in more than two years. For Michigan, year-to-date sales are up 10 percent, and prices are up nearly 5 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.” The percentages are tallied and expressed as a positive or negative number. If the number is positive, more respondents reported “up” than “down,” with the higher the number, the stronger the economic growth indicated. Conversely, if the number is negative, more respondents reported “down” than “up,” with the lower the number, the greater the economic contraction.

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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