Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the survey shows solid gains during the month of January.
“That number was up for the third straight month into a reasonably healthy range,” Goss says. “We’ve had stronger numbers but we’ve had weaker numbers. This is pointing to an expanding economy for the nine-state region, expanding at a little bit of an improving rate for the next three to six months.”
While the Midwest weathered the recession better than many other areas of the country, Goss says there are continuing signs that the region is still recovering more slowly.
“The numbers that we’re going to see from the U.S. are going to be stronger, in other words, the U.S. economy is probably going to outperform the Mid-American economy,” Goss says. “They’re both going to be on a positive trajectory.”
Nebraska’s makers of durable and nondurable goods, along with business service firms, experienced solid gains during the month, he says.
The region has gained back all of the job losses from during the recession and Goss says, contrary to the rest of the nation, the size of the labor force here is now at its highest level ever.
“We had job gains for the month,” Goss says. “The job index is looking much better, but along with that, we did have inflationary pressures up for the month and, of course, that’s a real concern.”
Goss predicts Nebraska’s economy will add jobs at an annual rate of less than one-percent in the first half of 2014, down from the same period in 2013.