GVSU: W MI economy to grow more slowly in 2019

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan should see slower growth in the local economy this year than last, experts at Grand Valley State University say, but most firms still expect to be profitable and hire more workers.

The findings released Thursday are the result of GVSU's annual survey of businesses in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties in November and December 2018.

"…For the overall economy, the expectation for hiring and sales is positive, and wages will accelerate faster this year," Paul Isely, an economics professor and associate dean at GVSU's Seidman College of Business, said in a statement. "We just have a much smaller group of fast-running companies right now."

Employment should grow by between 1.1 percent and 1.5 percent, which is about what we saw last year. Sales are expected to increase by between 2.7 percent and 3.1 percent, slower than recent years. Exports are forecast to grow by between 1 percent and 2 percent; they have been dipping in the last few years.

Isely noted that the automotive industry was an exception to the overall growth.

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