GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Grand Rapids metropolitan area was the fastest growing economy in the U.S. last year, according to Headlight Data, a company that tracks economic and workforce development.
Grand Rapids' workforce grew 4.4 percent last year, according to Headlight, which used U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to reach its conclusions. Total employment in the four-county region grew from 516,394 in 2015 to 539,152 in 2016, Headlight said.
More recently, the workforce for the region stood at 575,600, according to state figures released on June 22. Unemployment stood in West Michigan stood at 2.8 percent in May, slightly up from April, went the jobless rate stood at 2.4 percent.
Headlight, which tracks employment growth for the nation's 53 largest metro areas with more than 1 million residents, released its results on Wednesday, July 5. The Grand Rapids region includes Kent, Ottawa, Barry and Montcalm counties.
Nationally, employment grew 1.7 percent. Nashville was the second fastest growing economy at 4 percent followed by Charlotte, N.C. and Salt Lake City at 3.7 percent. Other large metros with rapidly growing economies are Riverside, Raleigh and Jacksonville.
Four large metros experienced shrinking economies. The greatest employment drop was found in Oklahoma City with a -0.8 percent decline. Houston was down .03 percent; New Orleans was down 0.2 percent and Pittsburgh was down 0.1 percent.