April 20, 2014

More families are moving to benefit women’s career

A new trend may be impacting Nebraska families and elsewhere. Mayflower moving recently conducted a study and Melissa Sullivan, Director of Marketing Communications says they are seeing more families move for the wife’s job.

Sullivan says their survey shows that nearly half of all Americans know at least one family who moved into the last five years for the wife’s job and almost 90% believe that relocating for the woman is more common than five year’s ago. The survey also shows 45% believe the spouses should take turns in their career and not just locate for the husband’s position. She says another 40% state the woman makes the same amount of money – or more- than their husband.

Sullivan says it is also more convenient for families to move without one spouse losing a job because of technology and work can easily be done at home.

Ag expert: Boom years may be coming to an end for farmers

corn harvest 1An agricultural economist says Nebraska’s corn and soybean producers need to prepare for tougher economic times ahead.

Mike Boehlje, at Purdue University, says he does not expect the setback to be as severe as it was during the Farm Crisis of the 1980s, but he assures, a fall is coming from the flush years farmers have been enjoying.

“In contrast to the 1980s as well as the 1930s where we had busts after the booms, we think we’re going to have a soft landing off of this one,” Boehlje says. “It doesn’t mean that farmers aren’t going to have to adjust to a different kind of business climate. We’ve had record incomes set and now the USDA’s numbers are showing that we’re going to be down about 30% in terms of income.”

Boehlje says farmers tend to focus too much on the prices they get for their crops.

“What I tell farmers is, the first and most important marketing decision you make is what you pay for your inputs, it’s not what you sell your product for,” Boehlje says. “You’ve got control over what you pay for your inputs. You don’t have nearly as much control of what you sell your products for. Farmers ought to spend a lot of time thinking now about negotiating the right prices for their inputs.”

He says the toughest of those input prices to negotiate is likely the rental agreement.

Boehlje says farmers should begin the conversation now with landowners to adjust for lower rent for 2015. He describes the relationship between the farmer and his lender as “essential and critical.”

“The conversation with the lender the last four or five years has been more, ‘How’s the family, how’s the kids, how ’bout that football game, and oh, yeah, you want money? Here, just sign the papers,’” Boehlje says. “It’s not going to be that way this next four or five years. There’s going to be tougher conversations asking for more documentation.”

Boehlje says farmers can add to their bottom line by looking for ways to meet specific needs of some of the processors to whom they sell grain.

By Dan Skelton, KICD, Spencer


March Mid-America Business Conditions Report

The March Mid-America Business Conditions Index shows promise. The March index came in at 58.2, up from February’s 57.4. Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss conducts the monthly survey and says the leading economic indicators showed positive growth and we ended the first quarter of the year on a positive note and the 2nd quarter could be even better.

The survey shows employment numbers did drop a bit but were still in good growth range. Goss says the overall regional employment level was at its highest level ever. The report shows job growth continues to climb in construction, food processing and durable goods. However on the down side, wage growth isn’t in the forecast. Goss says over the next year wage growth will average 1.8% with inflation as high as 2%.

Goss also expects more inflation than what the Federal Reserve predicts. He says that means higher interest rates in the months ahead.

The Midwest Region survey consists of nine states, including Nebraska.

State unemployment rate rises a bit

The state unemployment rate edged up a bit last month.

The Nebraska Department of Labor reports the preliminary unemployment rate in February was 3.6%, a tenth of a percent higher than in January.

“While the preliminary figures indicate that the unemployment rate has increased, it is encouraging that the labor force has grown by nearly 3,000 people compared to last month, including increases in both Lincoln and Omaha,” Commissioner of Labor Catherine D. Lang said in a written statement released by the department.

The Labor Department reports non-farm employment in February at 971,930, an increase of 4,865 over the month.

Employment in the education and health services industry increased by 900 statewide in February, 374 in Lincoln, and 1,205 in Omaha.

The unemployment rate in Omaha in February inched down a notch from 4.5% in January to 4.6% in February. The unemployment rate in Lincoln held steady at 3.7%.

The national unemployment rate in February stood at 6.7%.

Creighton survey: Winter weather slows sales for 1/3 of Midwest businesses

Economist Ernie Goss

Economist Ernie Goss

Nebraska’s economic numbers for February showed solid growth for the second consecutive month, according to a survey from Creighton University.

Business leaders and supply managers across the Midwest are polled on conditions monthly and Creighton economist Ernie Goss says the February report finds the prolonged winter and frigid temperatures hurt business regionwide.

“The overall index was down slightly and a lot of it has to do with the weather,” Goss says. “Obviously, the weather across the nation is having an impact. Fully one-third of the businesses that we survey reported negative impacts on their sales for the month of February that came from the weather.”

On the plus side, Goss is predicting job gains for the first half of 2014 both for Nebraska and the region.

“The employment numbers were good,” Goss says. “The numbers were in the growth range. We’re seeing jobs added in manufacturing, particularly in durable goods. We’re seeing jobs added in business services and that’s a real good thing.”

For rural farming states like Nebraska, Goss notes the ag economy is still limping along.

“Agriculture, a little bit weaker, businesses tied to agriculture, not as strong,” Goss says. “Some of those businesses by selling internationally are overcoming some of that. Our export number for the month of February was very strong and that’s good news particularly for agriculture, particularly for manufacturing.”

The Creighton report shows strong growth for durable goods manufacturers, including metal manufacturers in Nebraska. Even as domestic sales of ag equipment cooled, Goss says international sales of farm and earth-moving equipment have boosted business activity for ag equipment manufacturers in the state.

Also, food processors in the Husker State are experiencing healthy growth, according to Goss.