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West Michigan economy forecasted to grow in 2013, but at a little slower pace

Elizabeth Lienau
Grand Valley State University

Economists predict the economy in West Michigan will grow at a slow but steady pace this year.

“I mean we’re really looking at another year that feels like last year which isn’t so bad,” Paul Isley, chair of Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, said.

“We're growing here in West Michigan. We have a potential that by the end of this year at least some areas of West Michigan will finally be above, employment wise, where we were in 2000, which will be really a hallmark,” Isley said.

You can find his full report here.

He says more companies are planning to hire permanent workers. But many are still looking for skilled workers in highly specialized fields.

Business leaders gathered this morning in Grand Rapids for the 2013 West Michigan Economic Forecast were pleased to hear manufacturers in Holland, Muskegon and Grand Rapids are still growing. That’s mostly because the auto market is doing better. Exports are still growing too. But the export markets in China and Europe aren’t as hot as they were a year ago.

“We tend to sell items to the rest of the world that require either their businesses to be doing well or requires them to buy something big like a car. And they have to be pretty confident that their job is going to keep being there,” Isley said.

Isley says manufacturers and health care providers are still growing, but at a slower pace than last year.

He says uncertainty about the federal budget and debt could have a big effect on the economy.

“The consumer is just not sure how the government is going to change their paycheck. So they’re holding off until they get a better grasp on how the tax changes are going to affect them and how the spending cuts that we all know are going to happen are dialed in,” Isley said.

Isley predicts 2-percent employment growth, 2.5-percent sales growth, and 5.4-percent increase in exports.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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