West Michigan economy turns to "flat growth"

Jun 8, 2016

Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University
Credit gvsu.edu

The West Michigan economy has been stuck in a slow growth pattern. The economic data from the month of May’s Supply Management Research survey indicates the local economy has turned to “flat growth.”

May was a rough month for U.S. auto sales. General Motors sales fell 18 percent and Ford dropped six percent from a year earlier. Domestic and foreign automakers experienced declines.

Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University tells us the May auto report has turned West Michigan’s economy flat.

“We’re hoping that we will see some kind of a rebound, as far as new orders are concerned, and this month’s flatness is probably the result of the rather weak automotive report that came in just a few days ago.”

Still, local automotive suppliers are operating at full capacity and unemployment rate continues to improve. In Ottawa County it’s 2.7 percent, 2.9 percent in Kent County

“Our local economy is doing much better than the national economy. And so our unemployment statistics locally are some of the best that we’ve seen in over 10 years.”

Long says the state has about 80,000 technical jobs available.

“Companies are still continuing to hire when they can find people available. We still have a shortage of most of the skilled trades even in the case of production workers.”

Long explains, employers are willing to pay up to $13 an hour for unskilled labor and they are still having trouble filling those jobs.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.