If the long-promised economic downturn is on the horizon, manufacturers will be the first to feel it in 2020. That’s according to economists and industry experts who say the U.S. economy has become virtually split as it’s powered by confident consumers but weakened by a cautious business sector that is reducing investments and bracing for a contraction.
The collective outlook among automotive suppliers is moving deep into negative territory as trade tensions, declining volumes and weakness in the U.S. economy weigh on the minds of manufacturers.
Regardless of when the historic UAW strike against General Motors Co. ultimately ends, the disruptive effect of lost production and earnings will linger, putting further strain on an industry already flagged by slowing sales and tariff disputes with China.
As supply chains adjust to new realities in international trade, West Michigan manufacturers are entering the final months of 2018 with “caution.”
ACME — In his role as president of Shape Corp., Mark White often deals with disruptions in navigating the Grand Haven-based Tier 1 automotive supplier through uncertain business conditions.
WALKER — Citing increased demand from its automotive customer base, Betz Industries Inc. wants to expand its manufacturing capabilities at its sprawling West Michigan campus.
While most economists still believe in the strength of the overall economy, some West Michigan manufacturers say their business has begun to soften, indicating a slowdown could be starting to emerge.
Sentiment among automotive suppliers improved during the first part of 2017 as executives regained some degree of certainty following the results of the presidential election.
British voters wanted to send a message with the Brexit vote, and it was certainly heard loud and clear by manufacturers in West Michigan.