Midwest Economic Outlook Rises for Second Time in 2 Months

March 3, 2016

Figures from a survey of supply managers in nine Midwest and Plains states have risen for the second month in a row, suggesting more improvement in the regional economy.

A report issued says the Mid-American Business Conditions Index climbed to 50.5 in February from 48.3 in January. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says a strong U.S. dollar and economic weakness among the nation’s chief trading partners remain a restraint on regional growth.

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

“Over the past several months, the regional index, much like the national reading, has indicated that the manufacturing sector is experiencing anemic, but stabilizing, economic conditions,” Goss said.

However, he said, “A strong U.S. dollar and weakness among the nation’s chief trading partners remains a restraint on regional growth.”

The regional employment index sank to 44.4 in February from January’s 49.3.

“Employment is a lagging economic indicator,” Goss said in the report. “Therefore, I expect the solid improvement in new orders and production for the month to spill over into the job market in the months ahead, with modest gains for the overall regional labor market.

Other components of the February overall index included new orders at 52.5, up from 43.7 in January; and production or sales rose to 54.2 from January’s 45.3. The new export orders index improved to a still weak 46.1 from 40.0 in January, and the import index for February slipped to 50.1 from January’s 53.1.

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