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The economies of Michigan: Kalamazoo

By the numbers

$13.9 billion

Size of local economy, 2013


Percent economic growth, 2012-2013.


Rank, among 14 metropolitan
regions in Michigan, in terms
of one-year growth


Rank, among 382 metropolitan
regions in country, in terms of one-year change in GDP


Rank, among 14 Michigan regions,
in overall economic size


Rank nationally, in terms of economic size.
(The region, comprised of Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties, has nearly 330,000 people,
ranking 151st in population.)

The Business Buzz

The region's 2013 annual growth stood at 2.4 percent, above the national average for metropolitan areas. Manufacturing grew by 4.2 percent, though it remains more than 11 percent below pre-recession output in 2007.

Professional, scientific and technical services grew by 12 percent in 2013 to $521 million. Educational services rose 8.4 percent and health care and social services increased as well, by 4.6 percent. The information sector, though a small portion of the region's economy, fell 13.7 percent in 2013 and is 28 percent below 2007. Administration and waste management services fell 8.9 percent in 2013. Construction fell by 1 percent and remains 22 percent below 2007.

“I see GDP growth of 2.4 percent, but when I look at employment growth, I see just a 1 percent increase. It shows that GDP growth is largely due to productivity growth,” said George Erickcek, economic analyst for the Kalamazoo-based Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “Productivity is great in terms of competitiveness. But maybe that's why there are people in Kalamazoo who feel we are not growing that fast.”

For Erickcek, the key to the region’s future is its wide economic base, which includes pharmaceutical, medical instruments, paper and auto suppliers.

“What's interesting in Kalamazoo is its (economic) diversity. We are not as auto related as the rest of the state,” he said.

Top 10 industries: 'New' economy more broad-based

Improvements across most top industry sectors has made the region’s economy more diverse and less reliant on manufacturing.

Sector 2013 GDP
(in $ millions)
Percent of economy Peak year Change (2013)
from peak
Change from 2007 Change from 2012
Manufacturing $2,932 21.1% 2003 -22% -12.8% 4.2%
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing $2,771 19.9% 2013 0% 13% 3.6%
Government $1,642 11.8% 2002 -11.7% -8.9% -2.8%
Educational services, health care, and social assistance $1,554 11.2% 2013 0% 15.2% 5%
Professional and business services $,1071 7.7% 2008 -1.6% 6.9% 1.9%
Wholesale trade $885 6.4% 2013 0% 10.8% 5.4%
Retail trade $847 6.1% 2003 -20.2% -8% 0.6%
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services $442 3.2% 2005 -7.5% -8.1% 1.7%
Construction $407 2.9% 2002 -44.4% -28.2% -1%
Utilities $405 2.9% 2013 0% n/a n/a

Although it's not an "industry" by federal definition, government services were included in the list.

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