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West Michigan March ecomomic survey maintains steady growth pattern as optimism dips

Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University

Ten years ago the recovery from the Great Recession officially began. For the West Michigan economy it’s been a decade-long pattern of slow growth. The March Supply Management survey indicates the pattern holds true with confidence beginning to slip.

The Institute for Supply Management Research surveys 70 purchasing managers from the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo area. In March, their optimism in the economy began to fade.

“Probably because of the trade tension that we’re still seeing with China, as well as some other countries in the world, our local index of short-term business outlook, as we call it, took a dip this month.”

That’s Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. He’s also factoring in Brexit, the softening world economy and a slowdown in monthly auto sales.

“Automotive has been threatening to slow down, for of course, the last two years and finally auto sales are starting to slide. The good news is that so far it hasn’t begun to pinch our local auto parts producers. And they are still reporting sales at least to be steady.”

Long calls the sales decline “very orderly, so far.”

As for a rebound in auto sales and return to economic optimism?

“We’re hoping that over the next month or two we’re going to see some movement as far as the trade resolution with China as well as some kind of resolution relative to passage of the new North American Free Trade Agreement that is upsetting some of our most important trading partners.”

The long-term view for the next three to five years among purchasing managers remains steady.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.