OMAHA, Neb. — A monthly survey of business supply managers suggests business conditions improved last month and that more economic growth lies ahead for nine Midwest and Plains states, according to a report released Friday.
The Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 57.5 in August from 56.1 in July, the report said. The June figure was 62.3.
“The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy and points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the rest of 2017,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.
The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The August business confidence index jumped to 62.5 from 60.2 in July.
“Strong profit growth, still low interest rates, and international sales boosted the economic outlook among supply managers in the nine-state region,” he said.
But, Goss said, economic factors including the national debt ceiling, a potential U.S. budget impasse, tax reform and shipping bottlenecks tied to Hurricane Harvey may weigh on economic confidence during September.
“For example, exports of commodities such as ethanol, hard red winter wheat, corn and soybean will be slowed by port bottlenecks in the short term,” said Goss.
Regional hiring rose again, as reflected by a reading of 59.2 for the August employment index. The July figure was 56.5.
“Except for manufacturing tied to agriculture, businesses across the region added jobs at a solid pace for the month,” Goss said. “With the recent boost in employment growth, total regional employment growth (year over year) is now 1.4 percent and slightly below the nation’s 1.5 percent gain over the same time period.”