Patrick Center December 12, 2013 | WGVU 2013 was a great year. Better than the conservative 1.2 percent growth economist George Erickcek had forecast. The Grand Rapids metro economy grew by 2.4 percent.
“So 2.4 percent employment growth is truly strong and it’s balanced. It’s not being driven by autos. It’s not being driven by one particular sector. It’s broad based and we think that 2014 will be even a little bit better.”
Still, Erickcek points out the service sector is poised to expand 2.8 percent while agriculture, construction and manufacturing should advance 2.6 percent spurring a drop in unemployment.
“And it’s dropping for the right reason. It’s not dropping because people are giving up. It’s dropping because there are more and more jobs available for residents in the area.”
The forecast focusing on Kent, Barry, Montcalm and Ottawa counties.What keeps Erickcek up at night?
“My concern and what I watch for is any evidence that consumer buying goes down. Because if that happens then that could be the one thing that could slow down the economy.”
He says nationwide, job growth is slow. That weighs heavily on consumers who hold a lot of debt and control 70 percent of the economy. Erickcek says for them, the outlook is discouraging.
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