Holland employment may drop 4 percent in 09

January 13, 2009
| By Pete Daly |
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HOLLAND — The senior regional analyst at the Upjohn Institute said today he is predicting employment to drop 4 percent the Holland area during 2009, with a possible slight increase in employment during 2010.

George Erickcek, who presented his economic forecast to the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce this morning, said the region's reliance on manufacturing will be a liability, with the area faring worse than other parts of West Michigan where manufacturing isn't such a large part of the local economy.

Signs of a recovery may appear late in 2010, but Erickcek predicts it may only be an increase of one-tenth of one percent.

In 2008, the Holland-Grand Haven MSA had a decrease of about 1.7 percent in total employment. Manufacturing fell by 4.2 percent, while construction employment fell by 5.2 percent.

Erickcek said the steeper drop in employment in the year ahead is due to the national economy and to local "major events and assumptions" that include previously announced plans by Herman Miller Inc. to cut between 400 and 650 jobs, and Tiara Yachts cutting 350, plus further layoffs by auto parts suppliers and further shrinkage in the number of new construction permits issued in Ottawa County in 2008.

On the plus side, there are expansions underway at Perrigo Co., Request Foods and Genzink Steel, he noted. Erickcek also pointed out that the current recession, in terms of jobs lost, appears only slightly worse than the last recession in 2001 and less severe than the 1980 recession.

Erickcek compared the Upjohn Institute forecast for 2008 made one year ago, versus what actually happened during the year. Total job losses were about double what had been predicted, and employment in service-providing industries actually increased .3 percent, as opposed to a prediction of a drop by .2 percent. Goods-producing jobs dropped by 4.3 percent, versus the predicted decline of 1.2 percent.

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