Report shows improved Midwest economic outlook

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Farm Forum

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Falling grain and fuel prices have hurt businesses tied to those industries, but have helped consumers open their pocketbooks, leading to an improved economic outlook for nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a monthly report released on Jan. 2.

The survey of business leaders conducted by Creighton University put the region’s overall economic index at 54.4 in December, a jump from November’s 51.3.

“Over the past six months, a 26 percent decline in grain prices and a 13 percent plunge in fuel and related products have had negative impacts on businesses with ties to agriculture and energy,” according to Creighton economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. “At the same time, these price declines have produced positive impacts for firms more closely tied to the consumer.”

Business leaders appeared somewhat less optimistic about their prospects over the next six months. The confidence index dropped to 58.1 from November’s 61.5.

“Weaker economic conditions in the regional energy and agriculture sectors offset improvements in the national and regional job market in terms of supply managers’ business outlook,” Goss said.

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