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West Michigan in a 'shallow recession,' GVSU economist says

A shallow recession means some areas of the economy are doing well, while others are struggling.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As worries of a recession sweep the nation, Brian Long, a West Michigan economist who's been tracking the Consumer Price Index in Grand Rapids since the late 80s, said West Michigan is in a shallow recession.

This comes as the Consumer Price Index rose less in a year than experts were fearing, meaning inflation may be starting to ease. 

A shallow recession means some parts of the economy are okay while others are struggling. The automotive sector is doing well right now, but the office furniture industry is less stable.  

Long says that's due to more employees working from home or choosing to work in a hybrid model. This means office furniture is not in high demand, and furniture companies must navigate the new market.

Long, who is the director of supply chain management research at Seidman College of Business, says being in a shallow recession does not necessarily indicate a full recession is on the way.

"So what we are expecting is that sometime in the next year, GDP will turn somewhat negative. I don't expect it to slide into a really bad recession like we had in the Great Recession," he said. "But on the other hand, we do have the factors in place for somewhat of a slowdown."

In the past, West Michigan has not followed economic trends seen on a national or state level. Long says this is partially due to both higher productivity and lower unemployment levels in West Michigan compared to the rest of the state.

"The West Michigan workers are more productive, as it turns out, as a whole compared to workers in the rest of the country or in the rest of the state," he said.

Long says it's too soon to know whether we will experience a full recession. He added he thinks it will take about two years before we reach a target rate of 2% inflation.

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