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West Michigan Economic Index Perks Up — Except For Hiring

GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ) — The West Michigan industrial economy experienced continued growth in the latest survey of corporate purchasing managers conducted by Brian G. Long, director of supply management research at Grand Valley State Univeresity’s Seidman College of Business.

Survey results are based on data collected during the last two weeks of February.

The survey’s index of business improvement, called new orders, advanced to plus 19 from plus 14. The production index had a bigger gain, rising to plus 18 from plus 7. The employment index fell slightly, to plus 10, from plus 12. The index of purchases jumped, however, to plus 16, from plus 6 a month earlier.

The PMI 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 integrated office furniture companies are still in a winter slump, probably because of orders that were placed back in November and December to use up funds before the end of the year,” Long said in a press release. “However, several of the specialty office and steel furniture fabricators had a much better month.”

Long said auto parts firms turned in a mixed performance, but the bias was still to the up side.

“Any of the industrial distributors that support heavy equipment had a very busy February, helping repair snow removal vehicles,” Long said. “Other distributors remained steady. Overall, most firms reported being slightly busier in February than January.”

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the Grand Rapids area and 25 in the Kalamazoo area. 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.

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