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West Michigan Business Survey Shows Continued Slow Growth

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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 continues to grow slowly, 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 November.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, remained virtually unchanged at plus 16, up from plus 15. The production index remained the same at plus13, and the employment index resumed its pattern of modest growth and rose to plus 9 from zero.

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.

“For the 34th time since the recovery began, it can be concluded that slow growth for the West Michigan economy continues, and probably will continue for the foreseeable future,” said Long. “As we enter the third month of collecting our new ‘outlook’ statistics, the numbers are starting to bounce around a little as attitudes and perceptions shift.”

For November, the short-term business outlook index rose significantly to plus 29 from plus 17, and the long-term business outlook index advanced to plus 53 from plus 46.

Long said the office furniture firms posted one of the best months of the year.

“The recent uptick in office rentals around the country have translated to the purchase of new, more modern office furniture,” Long said.

Long also noted a study released this month from NerdWallet, an internet-based personal finance consumer advocacy group. The study of employment labor markets, called “The Ten Best Places in Michigan for Job Seekers,” names three West Michigan cities: Kentwood (5), Wyoming (8), and Portage (9).

See the NerdWallet study at www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/places-michigan-job-seekers/.

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

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