The latest Mid-America Business Conditions Index for April in nine Midwestern states points to slow economic growth ahead. Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says the overall index for the month of April rose to 52.7 from March’s 51.4.
Goss says, “Firms linked to energy and agriculture are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity. Growth in Oklahoma and North Dakota, two energy producing sates, is approximately one-third to one-half of what it was one year ago. That growth is likely to move even lower in the months ahead as the strong U-S dollar slows growth even more.”
Goss also asked business managers about hiring and says approximately 29.1% reported a shortage of applicants for open positions. This is up slightly from 27.1% in November. Goss says even with job cuts there is a labor shortage for more skilled workers.
Looking ahead, Goss says the business confidence index grew to 61.5 in April from 55.7 in March. He says businesses surveyed on their predicted sales price growth over the next year and that came in at 1.6%, less than what the Feds predicted.
For the 17th straight month, Nebraska’s Business Conditions Index remained above growth neutral 50. The leading economic indicator for April grew to a regional high of 54.6 from March’s 51.8. Goss says, “Nebraska’s exports expanded by more than six percent to a record high of $7.9 billion for 2014. The strong U-S dollar will push 2015 export growth into negative territory even as the overall state economy grows but at a slower pace than in 2014.”