The monthly economic survey of business leaders in Nebraska and eight other Midwestern states finds the region’s numbers slipping, slightly, along with Nebraska’s numbers.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the latest report wasn’t glowing, but it does still point to progress in the year ahead.
“The May number was down from April and the overall index was trending downward but it’s still in the positive range,” Goss says. “What I’m expecting for the nine-state region is pretty good growth, looking ahead three to six months, but when you compare it to last year, growth is going to be down, but still positive.”
The U.S. dollar is strengthening, up five-percent since January, which Goss calls “significant.”
Goss says, “In fact, it’s pushed up agricultural commodities prices, energy commodity prices, and of course that’s slowing down growth, particularly for this part of the country that depends heavily on a weak dollar.”
Goss says job growth for the region is trending downward and only rise less than one-percent this year. That should be in the range of at least one-to-two percent. Still, he says there are reasons for optimism.
“When we asked about wage growth, how much do you expect your income to grow next year — two percent,” Goss says. “That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s up from one-and-a-half percent in February when we asked the same question. All in all, wage growth is looking better, job growth is not quite as strong as we’d like to see.”
Durable goods producers in the state, especially those linked to agriculture, reported solid business activity for the month, Goss says. Nebraska’s nondurable manufacturers, including foods processors, likewise saw healthy activity.