GRAND RAPIDS — The West Michigan industrial economy continues to see marginal growth despite effects from the GM strike, a Grand Valley State University economist said.

Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in GVSU’s Seidman College of Business, surveyed local business leaders and his findings below are based on data collected during the last two weeks of October.

The survey’s index of business improvement (new orders) dropped significantly to -21 from +6. The production index fared worse, plunging to -34, from +6. The index of purchases dropped to -21 from -6 and the employment index fell to -14 from +8.

Long said GM-related layoffs accounted for most of the drop in the West Michigan employment index for October; he said he expects the local economy will return to steady slow growth in November.

“Of the 83 counties in Michigan, Ottawa County still posted the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7 percent. At 2.8 percent, Kent and Allegan counties tied for third place.” Long said. “It is good to see many firms are still looking for people at all levels.”

Long said it looks as though China and the U.S. may have come to an agreement and, if so, there could be a modest bounce in the economy if an agreement is signed.

“We’ve been here before, only to have China pull the rug out from under us at the last minute,” Long said. 

He added current signs still point toward a stagnation rather than a recession for the world economy.  

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo. The respondents are from the region’s major industrial manufacturers, distributors and industrial service organizations. It is patterned after a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management. Each month, the respondents are asked to rate eight factors as “same,” “up” or “down.”