Midwest, Plains Likely to See Economic Growth: Report

March 3, 2015

Economic growth lies ahead for nine Midwestern and Plains states despite pullbacks in the energy sector, according to a monthly report released on March 2.

The overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed to 57.0 in February from 54.8 in January, the report said.

“However, areas of the region linked closely to the energy sector, including ethanol, are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity,” said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group, who oversees the survey.

The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Economic optimism ebbed last month, according to the business confidence index, which dropped to 58.4 from 61.8 in January.

“Improving economic expectations resulting from lower energy prices more than offset economic pessimism stemming from weakness among energy and energy-linked businesses,” Goss said.

More than a third of the supply managers said they expected new hiring for their firms this year, but that percentage is down from the 40.3 percent of supply managers who said they expected new hiring last year.

“Businesses linked to agriculture and energy are laying off workers as firms outside these two sectors are expanding hiring at a positive pace,” Goss said.

Other components of the February overall index included new orders at 57.1, down from 58.6 in January; production or sales rose to 63.8 from January’s 60.5; the new export orders index dropped to 54.4 from 57.0 in January; and the import index slipped to 52.7 from January’s 52.8.

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