September 15, 2014

Creighton survey: Nebraska’s economy strengthens, slightly

Dr. Ernie Goss, Creighton University

Dr. Ernie Goss, Creighton University

A survey of business leaders in Nebraska and eight other Midwestern states finds Nebraska’s economy strengthening in August, after a fall in July.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the region’s economy is still generally healthy, but there are signs of weakness, in the past month and for the quarter ahead.

Goss says, “The overall reading, that’s the leading economic indicator for the month of August, is up a bit but it’s still in a range that’s just indicating this economy is limping along.”

President Obama is asking Congress for authorization to attack Syria, a move which Goss says is having ripple effects being felt here in the heartland.

“Growth for the 4th quarter of 2013 is not going to be as strong as what we saw in 2012,” Goss says. “We’ve got what’s going on in the Middle East, or what’s not going on, that’s creating some real uncertainties and that’s pushing up oil prices and it’s spilling over into our survey.”

The survey shows exports are strong and the farm economy is very healthy. Still, Nebraska’s unemployment rate rose slightly in July to 4.2%, which is well below the national unemployment rate of 7.4%.

“What we’re seeing in the mid-American region is much like what we’re seeing in the national economy,” Goss says. “There’s a lot of part-time hiring, believe it or not, the numbers are showing up, but if you look at the average hours worked, down a bit, still weak, weak, weak.”

He says durable and nondurable goods manufacturers in Nebraska combined to push the overall manufacturing sector forward for the month. Goss adds, food processors in the state experienced solid business growth during August.