A Grand Valley State University economist says the West Michigan economy is a little stronger than it was last month.

Brian G. Long, director of Supply Management Research in the Seidman College of Business, surveyed local business leaders and his findings are based on data collected during the last two weeks of July.

New orders and production were up. Purchases saw a big boost and employment was slightly improved.

Long said that "survey participants are generally optimistic. He also said the office furniture business is stable with no problems on the horizon, and most firms are approaching capacity. However, there is evidence that local auto parts suppliers may be impacted by a topping out of the market for vehicles. For Detroit car makers, a plateau appears likely.

"The odds of sliding into a recession in the next few months have lessened considerably," Long said.

Internationally, Long said that the Chinese economy, which has been negative for the past year and a half, appears to be on the mend, posting its first gains since February 2015.

"If these data are correct, we can take China off the 'worry' list for systemic problems that could upset the world economy," Long said.

The Institute for Supply Management survey is a monthly survey of business conditions that includes 45 purchasing managers in the greater Grand Rapids area and 25 in Kalamazoo.