Points of View

West Michigan is Growing—and People are Noticing

Ryan Gimarc

Earlier this month, an article from Headlight Data aggregated some newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau, looking at job growth from 2015 to 2016. 

On the MSA-level (Metropolitan Statistical Area), Grand Rapids was ranked as the #1 Fastest Growing Large Metro Economy, with the level of jobs expanding by 4.4% over the year. This growth edged out expanding metro areas in the southern U.S. such as Orlando, FL (4.2%), Nashville, TN (4.0%), and Charlotte, NC (3.7%), as well as several metro areas out west (Salt Lake City, UT grew by 3.7%, and Riverside, CA ranked sixth with 3.5% growth). The U.S. average growth over the time period was 1.7%. 

Which Industries are Growing?

To add a little context to the data, we thought we would see which industries have been growing in the Grand Rapids MSA over the past year, as well as over the past five years. 

Because of availability and quality issues with using the QCEW* data used in the Headlight Data analysis on an industry level, we're going to take a look at industry growth using another U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics dataset known as CES, or Current Employment Statistics. 

According to the CES data set, the fastest-growing industry in the Grand Rapids MSA from 2015 to 2016 is Mining, Logging, and Construction, which grew by 7.2%, adding 1,500 jobs. Behind this was Leisure and Hospitality, which grew by 3.7% adding 1,700 jobs. The region's largest industry, Manufacturing, grew by 3.4% from 2015 to 2016 to a 2016 employment level of 111,700. To note: in May 2017, the region reported 115,300 jobs, showing continued growth.

What Industries will Continue to Grow?

In short: many of them! A few months ago, we took a look at some of the most important sub-industries within the West Michigan region to see which ones anticipated the most growth according to projections from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. While these sub-industries were largely found in Health Care and Social Assistance and Construction, expansive growth could be seen in many industries in West Michigan.

*Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages