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August Survey: A mood of economic uncertainty


The 45 west and southwest Michigan purchasing managers surveyed by the Institute for Supply Management Research in August suggests a mixed bag of economic indicators is providing a murky outlook.

“The mood of our survey, respondents continues to be iffy. Some are expecting a slowdown and some are bracing for a potential recession, and some are simply taking it one day at a time.”

Brian G. Long is director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. While there are indicators the local economy is beginning to slow, demand for cars and trucks and locally produced parts is propping it up. And at a time when the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates attempting to tame inflation, the labor market remains strong.

“According to what we call headline unemployment, Michigan's rate has fallen to 4.2%, but most of our West Michigan statistics are beating the state averages, such as the unemployment rate for Ottawa County came in at 3.4%, Kent County, 3.8% and Barry County 3.9%.“

Should the economy continue to cool, Long explains, “employment and unemployment are laggard statistics.” He suggests it could be a couple of months into a recession before layoffs become significant.