GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan industrial economy is considerably stronger, while the national 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.

Long said the survey results are based on data collected during the last two weeks of May.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, rose to +35, up from +31, a two-year high. The production index came in at +35, slightly higher than last month’s +34. The employment index rose to +28 from +22.

“The auto parts suppliers are underwriting the strength of the Michigan economy, as well as our economy in West Michigan,” Long said. “Auto sales remain strong, resulting in production schedules continuing to be revised upward. Some of the smaller office furniture firms are seeing stronger sales; the larger office furniture firms saw the first inkling of a modest uptick, given that sales have been lackluster for the past few months. In addition, the housing market is stronger and new construction has picked up.”

Long said the national industrial economy is not nearly as strong as the local economy. He said May numbers show the first negative report since November 2012 and the weakest number since June 2009 — almost four years ago.  

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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