Nebraska businesses are increasingly confident about expanding sales and hiring over the next six months. That is the assessment from the latest leading economic indicator report.
Overall, the indicator rose by 1.18 percent in January, which suggests growth six months from now.
Dr. Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska, says that increase is significant.
“It’s nearly large enough to suggest rapid growth in the economy, but not quite,” Thompson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
The declining value of the U.S. dollar helped push the indicator up.
“The U.S. dollar, after rising recently, fell pretty strongly during the month of January, and that’s a positive for Nebraska businesses that export,” Thompson explains.
He says increasing business confidence also boosted the indicator last month. Part of that is from businesses that export.
“Nebraska is a state that, among other things, specializes in the production of goods, particularly in agriculture, but also general manufacturing,” Thompson says. “We benefit quite a bit from international trade.”
Businesses are more confident that their sales will grow and they will do more hiring.
The only drag during January was a slight increase in new unemployment claims.
“We’ll need to see if that continues,” Thompson says. “Based on the outlook that the business survey is reporting, I wouldn’t expect that we’re going to see a continued spike in initial claims for unemployment insurance.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]