Healthy economic growth expected in Midwest, Plains states

Published 10:16 pm Tuesday, July 4, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. — The economy will likely continue growing at a healthy pace over the next few months in nine Midwest and Plains states, according to a monthly survey of business leaders released Monday.

The overall economic index for the region increased to 62.3 in June from May’s solid 55.5. Any score above 50 suggests growth.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the Federal Reserve’s recent interest rate hike didn’t dampen business leaders’ confidence in the economy.

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“The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy, and points to healthy growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing into the fourth quarter of this year,” Goss said.

The survey released Monday covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers said any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor, while a score below that suggests decline.

The monthly employment index remained at a strong level of 60.7 even though it declined slightly from May’s 62.3.

Goss said that food processors and ethanol producers are adding jobs in the region faster than durable goods manufacturers are eliminating jobs.

“As a result, the job picture for regional manufacturing continues to improve,” Goss said.

The business leaders are feeling optimistic. The confidence index jumped to 67.5 in June from May’s 61.4.

The survey’s wholesale price index remained elevated at 69.4 in June even though it was slightly lower than May’s 73.1.

The export index increased to 56.6 in June from May’s 54. The import index also grew to 56.7 from May’s 52.4.