Modest economic growth is expected during the first half of 2017, according to the latest Leading Economic Indicators report for Nebraska.
Most of the leading indicators were positive or neutral during October.
But Eric Thompson, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bureau of Business Research, says two areas dragged down optimism.
“Airline passenger counts, those fell in the month of October. Although, they were up in September, so this is a bit of a fall back,” Thompson tells Nebraska Radio Network. “The other thing, and this has been a big issue for a while, is the value of the dollar went up again, and that makes it more difficult for exporters in Nebraska and we’re a big exporting state.”
The report shows slight increases in building permits, manufacturing hours, and business expectations.
The unemployment rate for Nebraska during October increased slightly. Up 0.1 percent to 3.3 percent for the month.
“As the labor market continues to improve, even if it’s improving slowly, that will draw more workers who may have gotten discouraged back during the great recession,” Thompson explains. “Certainly in the Lincoln area, but around Nebraska, there is a great need for additional workers.”
Thompson says a recent hiring freeze and travel restriction for University of Nebraska system employees is also related to the rising dollar and weak agricultural commodity prices.
“We’ll keep following the index every month and hopefully it’ll turn up and we’ll get some more consistent improvement,” Thompson says. “So that we can see solid growth next year, rather than sort of weak growth.”