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West Michigan Industrial Economy Flat Again

GRAND RAPIDS -- The West Michigan industrial economy is flat for the second month, 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 September. The survey's index of business improvement, called new orders, edged up to plus 2, from zero. The production index turned negative at minus 10, down from plus 5. The purchasing index flattened to zero, down from plus 8. And the employment index eased to  plus 4 from plus 18.

"All of these statistics continue to depict a flat economy, but not a recession," said Long. "Because we have been reporting a relatively slow economy for many months, the fact that the economy has now turned flat will probably go unnoticed by most people on the street. After four years of economic weakness, it seems as though a flat or weak economy is simply becoming the new norm for many people."

Long said automotive parts suppliers are still positive but they are no longer showing the rapid expansion of a few months ago. But he also said supply has not caught up with demand in auto sales. Long said office furniture firms and industrial distributors remain stable.

"The housing recovery continues to provide stimulus for the U.S. economy," Long added. "The national Case-Shiller index released on September 25 pointed toward continued recovery in 16 of the 20 market areas in the survey. Local statistics also point toward recovery, and the number of houses being sold as well as the average price of the sales clearly indicates that things are finally getting better."

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

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

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