Quality space in high demand
The rise of West Michigan’s unemployment rates from the end of 2017 have continued yet are still at very healthy levels. The Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent, very much in-line with the national average. Although we are currently in the second longest economic recovery, consumer confidence remains at an all-time high, peaking at an index of 130.0 in February.
Since 2007, Grand Rapids has seen an increase in jobs in many office-using professions. While total employment in the MSA has grown by 10.5 percent over that time, Education & Health Services (+27.5 percent), Professional & Business Services (+12.2 percent), and Financial Activities (+12.1 percent) have all outpaced that. This has resulted in 29 consecutive quarters of positive office space absorption. While unemployment seems to have leveled off, the reason these sectors continue to expand is because of the region’s population growth. In fact, the MSA has seen an impressive 4 percent growth in population since 2013, which represents more than 40,500 new residents.
The trend of workers reaching the retirement age, yet remaining in the work force has also been prominent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those ages 55 and over is just 3.2 percent as of February 2018. That’s lower than the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for the entire U.S. population and a steep 14.4 percent for teens. Companies are now focused on attracting the new wave of talent, re-attracting those who took a break from the labor force, and retaining experienced professionals who want to stay in the workforce.
Click here for the full 2018 Q1 West Michigan Office Market Report