A new survey of Nebraska’s business leaders and supply managers finds the state following the regional trend by posting economic losses during December.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the Husker State’s numbers mirrored those of the Midwest overall.
“This economy is slowing down, that’s slowing growth and we’re seeing it in almost all of the nine states in the region,” Goss says. “Our leading economic indicator for the month of December is below growth neutral for the fifth time in the past six months.”
While legislation passed in Congress this week to reverse the so-called fiscal cliff of higher taxes and budget cuts, Goss says it’s too little, too late, and the lack of progress in Washington made many business owners skittish.
“There is a lot of what I would call economic craziness out there,” Goss says, “and a lot of it’s coming about because of some bad legislation and a lack of any leadership, either from the president or from Congress.”
Nebraska was one of only three states in the region to expand its labor force over the last year. Despite growth in the labor market by 10,000 jobs, Goss says Nebraska added jobs at a pace that reduced its unemployment rate to the second lowest in the nation. Since the national economic recovery began in July 2009, Nebraska has gained almost 3,000 manufacturing jobs.
New elements of the federal health care reform act are taking effect in the new year, which Goss says has forced some Midwestern business owners to take extreme measures.
Goss says, “We’re having reports of businesses in the nine-state region dividing up into two companies so they’re not subject to health care reform laws which go into effect for those who are over 50 and above in terms of employees.”
Goss says the Creighton surveys over the past several months point to slow-to-no job gains for the first half of 2013 for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing.