The monthly Mid-America Business Conditions Index for the nine states region that includes Nebraska and Iowa dipped slightly for the month of February. February’s index dropped to 53.1 in February compared to 53.2 in January. Creighton University Economist Dr. Ernie Goss conducts the survey each month and he believes this index is pointing to very slow growth in the months ahead. He says there will also be negative impact from sequestration.
Dr. Goss says the region’s employment gauge climbed above 50.0 for February. (50.0 is growth neutral) February’s reading stood at 51.6, up from January’s 48.9. Dr. Goss says this indicates little or no job growth in the region in the next three to six months. Business confidence sank to 50.6 in February compared to January’s 56.6. Inventory levels increased during February but at a slower pace compared to January. New export orders remain weak.
For the second time in the past three months, Nebraska’s leading economic indicator sank below growth neutral. The Business Conditions Index, from a survey of supply managers, tumbled to 48.7 from January’s 50.5, but was up slightly from December’s 48.4. Components of the index for February were new orders at 50.2, production or sales at 47.5, delivery lead time at 48.8, inventories at 52.8, and employment at 44.3. “Contrary to other states in the region, Nebraska’s unemployment rate has declined and the labor force has expanded since the national expansion began in 2009. However according to our surveys over the past several months this very positive trajectory is now ending with slow to no growth projected for the next three to six months,” said Goss.