The new monthly survey of supply managers and business leaders in Nebraska and eight other Midwestern states finds the numbers climbing for the region for the fourth straight month.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the February report of leading economic indicators is very encouraging.
“The overall index moves to its highest level since June of 2014,” Goss says. “Obviously, that’s good. The index ranges between zero and 100 and 50 is growth neutral. This was well above that. It expanded to 60.5. Now, that’s not like your high school chemistry score, that’s good!”
The business conditions index specifically for Nebraska fell slightly to 55.4 in February from 56.9 in January. For the region as a whole, the business confidence index soared to its highest level in six years.
“What that tells us is, the nine-state regional economy is likely to expand in the next three-to-six months,” Goss says, “and expand at a pretty good pace.”
The survey finds the region is adding manufacturing jobs at a solid pace, though the wholesale inflation gauge is also rising to its highest level since April 2014.
“We’ve got some inflationary pressures, they’re building,” Goss says. “This is at the wholesale level so supply managers are telling us they’re paying more and more for these raw materials and supplies.”
Goss says the recent surveys point to positive but slow growth in Nebraska for the next six months with about 2,200 new jobs.
The survey shows the state’s leading industries are ethanol and trucking, while there is a lag in metal manufacturers and agriculture equipment producers.