According a recent report by Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Grand Rapids has become the new “boom town” in the state of Michigan.
Michigan took a huge hit during the recession of the late 2000’s, especially in the area of manufacturing. Grand Rapids was no exception. But because the Grand Rapids economy is diversified and not solely dependent on manufacturing, the effects were mitigated.
It is now safe to say however that Grand Rapids has fully recovered and has surpassed all areas of Michigan in the way of jobs and growth.
There are more people employed in the area — composed of Kent, Barry, Montcalm and Ottawa counties — and those workers are both producing and earning more. There are 542,600 jobs in the area, 19.8 percent more than its 2009 recessionary trough and 4 percent more than its 2000 peak. Per capita personal incomes increased 13.5 percent in the recovery and are 5.3 percent above 2000 levels, adjusted for inflation. The value of goods and services produced the area rose 21.5 percent from the recessionary trough and 16.2 percent from 2001 (metropolitan GDP information doesn’t go back to 2000).
Grand Rapids has experience nearly double the rate in employment growth over the last few years. Unemployment now stands an enviable 2.8%, well below the national average.
The growth is across many sectors, and not the result of one industry (i.e. healthcare). Healthcare has been a boon to the area however. There are a whopping 60.8 percent more jobs in the healthcare industry in Grand Rapids than in the year 2000. (Thanks mainly to the Medical Mile!)
Manufacturing Jobs Decreased
While some manufacturing still exists in the Grand Rapids area, there are fewer jobs in the sector than there were in 2000. Even auto and auto parts manufacturing have not fully recovered to pre-2009 levels.
Regardless of the exact causes, it is encouraging to see one region booming, and a hopeful sign that others in Michigan may follow.