ARTICLES

Local economy barely escapes negative territory

October 15, 2012
Flat again. Two months ago, we saw the Greater Grand Rapids economy slide into the minus column for the first time in three years. Read More

Moderate performance marks local purchase report

December 7, 2009

Moderation. That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of November. New orders, our index of business improvement, backtracked to +10 from +36. In a similar move, the production index remained positive, but eased to +16 from last month's +29. Activity in the purchasing offices came in at +10, down from +21. It was disappointing to see the index of employment slide to -5, down from +17. All in all, most of our statistics continue to be positive, but the pace has clearly slowed. Since we are now in our eighth month of the current recovery, it is not surprising to see a month of moderation. Although this trend may continue into December, the beginning of 2010 still looks positive.

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Recovery signals leave firms 'cautiously optimistic'

November 7, 2009

The recovery continues. That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of October. New orders, our index of business improvement, rose to +36, up from +31. The production index remained positive, but backtracked to +29 from +38. Activity in the purchasing offices moderated to +21, down from +24. The index of employment rose modestly to +17 from +14. For the third successive month, 31 percent of the firms responding to this survey reported that employment levels are rising. This is offset by 14 percent of the respondents that are still cutting jobs.

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Purchasing data shows local economy improving

October 5, 2009

Still improving. That's the latest word on the Greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of September. New orders, our closely watched index of business improvement, rose to +31, the highest the index has been since May 2006. The production index fared better as well, rising to +38 from +34. Activity in the purchasing offices moderated to +24, down from +33. The index of employment remained positive for the second time in two years, although it moderated to +14 from +19. Just as last month, 31 percent of respondents reported that employment levels are rising.

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Surge to boost automotive inventories brings jump

September 8, 2009

More positive. That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of August. New orders, our index of business improvement, edged up to +24 from +19. This index has now been positive for five consecutive months. The production index fared even better, rising to +34 from +19. Activity in the purchasing offices, which we report as our index of purchases, rose sharply from +4 to +33.

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Long-awaited recovery may have finally arrived

August 9, 2009

Still positive. That's the latest word on the Greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of July. New orders, our closely watched index of business improvement, remained positive at +19, slightly below last month's +26. Given that this is the fourth consecutive month the new orders index has been positive, it is now safe to say that the Grand Rapids economy probably hit bottom in March and the long-awaited recovery has begun. The production index edged up to +19 from +14. For the first time since July 2007, our index of purchases turned positive at +4, up from -3 last month. Although the index of employment remained slightly negative at -4, it is encouraging to see that 17 percent of the firms in our survey are now adding personnel. What does not show in this statistic is that some firms that had cut back to a 32-hour workweek are now resuming their normal schedules. However, some firms are still cutting back, and for them, the new wave of optimism has yet to arrive.

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Purchasing report finally shows some positive indicators

July 6, 2009

Slightly better!  That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of June. New orders, our closely watched index of business improvement, bounced to +26, up from +5. The production index reversed itself to +14, up from -21. Activity in the purchasing offices, our index of purchases remained slightly negative at -3, but was vastly improved over the -32 we reported last month. Although still in negative territory, it was encouraging to see the index of employment come back to -4, a vast improvement over lasts month's -37. This of course means that layoffs are subsiding. Is this finally the beginning of the recovery?  Perhaps.  However, one month does NOT constitute a trend. The General Motors bankruptcy is just starting to unfold, and the recovery for the Detroit Three is still nowhere in sight.

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Purchasing performance still struggling to gain ground

June 7, 2009

Still searching for a bottom. That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of May. Regrettably, this is the first recent month that the local economy did not track with the ISM national statistics. New orders, our index of business improvement, remained positive at +5, up from +2. Although this modest improvement is good news, the rest of our statistics worsened. The production index retreated to -21 from -2. Activity in the purchasing offices, our index of purchases, backtracked to -32 from -21. The index of employment dropped sharply to -37 from -14.

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Modest increase in new orders spurs positive hopes

May 11, 2009

Bottoming out: That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of April. For the first time since January 2008, new orders, our index of business improvement, came back to positive at a very modest +2, up from -5 in our last report. Rebounding from an all-time record low of -57 just four months ago, this is a positive sign. The production index remained modestly negative at -2, up from -7. Activity in the purchasing offices moderated to -21 from -42. The index of employment came in at -14, up from -27. Although the index of new orders has flipped to positive, all of our other statistics remain negative.  Hence, we are not yet to the point of declaring the beginning of a recovery. However, it is a reasonable bet that we may have reached the bottom of the current slide, at least for now.

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Purchasing figures show impact on production

April 5, 2009

Lower, but less pessimistic. That's the latest word on the greater Grand Rapids economy, according to the data collected in the last two weeks of March. New orders, our closely watched index of business improvement, moderated to -5, up from -20. Although the index is still in negative territory, it looks far better than the -57 that we reported in December. In a similar move, the production index remained negative but moderated to -7, up from last month's -31. Activity in the purchasing offices, our index of purchases, only moved to -42 from -44. The index of employment came in at -27, not nearly as pessimistic as last month's record low of -48. All in all, our statistics are still negative, but the sharp rate of decline has subsided substantially. Although the worst may be over, the road to recovery may still be very long.

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