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West Michigan Economic Growth On Upswing

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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 (WWJ) – The West Michigan industrial economy posted another month of growth in late October, according to 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 October.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, rose to +15, up from +6. The production index advanced to +13, up from +2. However, the employment index flattened to 0 from +10.

The West Michigan Purchasing Managers Index is a diffusion index with a baseline of zero. A group of corporate purchasing managers is asked whether a variety of economic indicators is the same, lower or higher than a month earlier. The farther the index is above zero, the more managers answered that the indicators were higher. Figures below zero indicate that more managers answered that the indicators were down from a month earlier.

“The resumed resurgence of auto sales has resulted in some new quoting opportunities for our local auto parts suppliers,” said Long. “Optimism is growing over the 2014 model year. Meanwhile, the office furniture firms reported a slight uptick in activity in October, but the reports from the industry’s Tier I suppliers and some of the smaller firms were flat. For industrial distributors, the reports were mixed, although the bias, for whatever reason, was to the down side. The reports from the capital equipment firms were generally positive. Overall, most firms remain stable and profitable.”

Long said local economic implications of Obamacare are starting to surface. He said smaller firms are scared by the complexity of the new requirements and taxes and are not hiring or expanding as they should.

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.

An expanded version of this report and details of the methodology used to compile it are available at http://www.gvsu.edu/scblogistics.

For more information, contact Brian Long at (269) 323-2359.

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