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June survey report echoes previous signs that slow economic growth ahead for Midwest, Plains

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OMAHA, Nebraska — Data from a June survey echo previous signs that slower economic growth likely lays ahead for nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report said the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 53.0 last month from 50.4 in May.

"Much weaker business conditions for firms tied to energy are restraining the overall reading," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. "Weaker conditions were particularly evident in Oklahoma and North Dakota, two energy-producing states. This weakness is spilling over into metal manufacturers throughout the region."

The survey results from supply managers were 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.

Looking ahead six months, the business confidence index rose to 59.9 from May's 58.3.

"Improvements at the national level in housing, retail sales and hiring pushed supply managers to raise their expectations about future economic conditions," Goss said.

On the employment front, the regional employment gauge indicated slightly negative to stagnant job growth for manufacturing and value-added services firms in the region. The index hit 49.1, compared to 48.3 in May.

For the June survey, supply managers were asked about the hiring situation at their companies, a question that also was asked in June 2014. There was little change from last year, Goss said.

"Approximately four of 10 firms in both surveys expected to hire additional workers in the second half of the year," Goss said. In this year's survey, only 7.1 percent anticipated layoffs in the year ahead, which is down from the figure of 10.4 percent in June 2014.

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