GVSU economist: Local economy will be strong in 2018

Brian Long, photo from gvsu.edu

By Dottie Barnes

Grand Valley State University


The West Michigan economy looks strong for the new year, according to a Grand Valley State University expert.


“We are heading into 2018 with a full head of steam,” said Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business. “I don’t see anything on the horizon that will trip us up.”


Long surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of November.


The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) rose to +20 from +11. The production index backtracked slightly to +17 from +20. The index of purchases eased to +18 from +22, and the employment stayed positive at +13, down slightly from +14.


Long said the November performance for most groups was mixed.


“Despite the modest softening in auto sales, the local auto parts producers remain surprisingly strong, even though they continue to voice concern about possible slower auto sales as we head into 2018,” he said. “It is currently the slow season for office furniture sales, and the industry still appears to be topping out at the present level.”


Long said some of the smaller office furniture firms are still expanding, and for most industrial distributors, November was one of their better months. “A plateau seems to be forming for the capital equipment industry, but recent proposed changes in the tax law could result in improved conditions in 2018,” he said.


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.”


For over 28 years, Dr. Brian Long has edited a survey of local purchasing managers for both the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids areas, which has proved to be a major indicator of current and future business conditions.  This survey appears in many local newspapers and national business publications, including the Grand Rapids Press, MiBiz, and the Grand Rapids Business Journal.  The survey is also a component of the Federal Reserve’s bimonthly survey of business conditions. 



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