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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Flat job growth forecast for 08
(2007-12-12)
(wgvu) - Flat job growth forecast for 08

Dec. 13, 2007

By Mark Sanchez
marks@mbusinessreview.com

The metro Grand Rapids area will experience flat employment in 2008, as
manufacturing jobs further declines and the national economy slows,
according to an annual outlook.

While service employment will grow, the sector will not expand enough
to offset a projected loss of 1,100 goods-producing jobs in the area,
said economist George Erickcek, senior analyst for the W.E. Upjohn
Institute for Employment Research.

Overall job growth in the four-county Grand Rapids-Wyoming metropolitan
statistical area will outperform the rest of Michigan, though it will
not do as well as the nation, as has been the case for a number of years
now.

If we compares ourselves to the state overall, we're doing well.
If we compare ourselves to the nation, we are not, said Erickcek, who
likens the situation within Michigan to being in the hospital.

You look at the patient next to you and you think, Gee, I look
pretty good next to that guy,' he said.

Erickcek was scheduled to present his annual employment outlook
Thursday morning in Grand Rapids. He'll offer outlooks for additional
markets across western Michigan throughout the next month.

The Upjohn Institute projects overall employment in the Grand
Rapids-Wyoming MSA an area that includes Kent, Allegan, Newaygo and
Ionia Counties to remain flat in 2008 across all economic sectors,
after growing an estimated 0.4 percent in 2007.

The new forecast sees overall job growth returning in 2009, projecting
a 0.6 percent gain as the national economy rebounds.
Goods-producing employment, after declining an estimated 1.1 percent in
2007, is forecast to decrease another 1.6 percent in 2008 and then by
0.5 percent in 2009, a year when construction employment should at least
rebound.

The forecast is predicated on further problems for the domestic auto
industry, a national economy that is starting to get tired, and a
projected 0.6 decline in office furniture shipments in 2008, Erickcek
said.

The projected loss of 1,100 goods-producing jobs in the Grand Rapids
area next year is largely linked to the domestic auto industry's
further decline, he said.

We have a headwind in the fact the we are in the state of
Michigan, Erickcek said.

On the upside, service-producing employment will continue to grow next
year, albeit at a slower rate than in 2007. The Upjohn Institute, based
in Kalamazoo, projects service-sector jobs in the Grand Rapids area to
grow by 0.7 percent in 2008, down from the estimated 1.3 percent growth
rate of 2007.

We are seeing net job openings in the services, Erickcek said.
Service jobs will grow by another 1.2 percent in 2009 amid improved
economic performance nationally, the Upjohn Institute forecast states.

Driving the growth in service-sector jobs are positions is the
burgeoning health care industry, one of the leading employment sectors
in many counties across the state.

Government employment is forecast to decline one percent in 2008.
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