Demand still high, space still limited
West Michigan continues to be an attractive and thriving manufacturing region. Since the economic recession of 2007 to 2009, the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area has seen a 9.8 percent increase in manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing is the largest employment industry in the area, with more than 20 percent of overall jobs in the region. The automotive, office furniture, and aerospace industries form the foundation of a strong manufacturing sector in West Michigan. Kent County alone has more than 66,000 manufacturing jobs in over 1,100 manufacturing companies, which is more than three times the national average.
The Grand Rapids-Wyoming MSA’s unemployment rate continues to hover around 4 percent, very much in-line with the national average. While some economists believe we are nearing the twilight stages of the second longest economic recovery in history, consumer confidence is at an all-time high. Early in the first quarter, the consumer confidence index peaked at 130.0, compared 111.0 in the first quarter of 2017. Because of this, companies continue to operate at or near full capacity.
One of the primary constraining factors manufacturers are facing is availability of skilled labor. Specifically in manufacturing, workers that match specific job requirements are in short supply and high demand. High schools, universities and trade schools are working together to fill this talent shortage by creating programs that train the next generation of workers.
Click here for the full 2018 Q1 West Michigan Industrial Market Report