Theres rapid growth in Grand Rapids jobs in recent years, making it a desirable place to live and work. Though it's dependent on auto industry demand for many of those jobs, the city also is home to major furniture manufacturing businesses, health care organizations, retail chains, and scientific and technical firms. Grand Rapids was listed as one of the best places to live in 2017, with housing costs and shorter average commute times as two advantages of the city.
Grand Rapids is home to five big names in office furniture, providing a strong local source for management, manufacturing and design jobs, and support staff. These are companies like Steelcase and Herman Miller that together provide over 7,000 jobs in Grand Rapids. The Grand Rapids metropolitan area was ranked number one in the country for job growth in 2017, as the area expands into new industries on top of existing success stories. West Michigan is becoming a popular tourist destination, and the metro area is benefiting from this new growth area.
Several major local employers are family businesses with an entrepreneurial spirit. Grocery chain Meijer, Wolverine World Wide, which makes Hush Puppies shoes, Bissell vacuums and sweepers, and the world's largest grandfather clock maker, Howard Miller, are all family-owned. Home care products company Amway, a family company, is also based in Grand Rapids.
The Grand Rapids unemployment rate in March of 2018 was 3.5, down from a winter high of 4.0, reflecting steady employment for much of the metro area. Statistically, work in professional and business services is showing growth, as are the fields of education and health services, and mining, logging and construction. The average hourly wage here was about 12 percent below the national average, but nationally competitive wages were being paid in community and social service, health care support, and personal care and service. The most active areas of employment are in production, transportation and logistics, and architecture and engineering.
Grand Rapids finds its strengths in manufacturing rather than technology, and health care and personal services over service industry employment. As it receives national attention for its successes, it may provide an example to follow.