The nine state’s that make up the Mid-America Economic Index, including Nebraska, report both good and bad news when it comes to leading economic indicators. Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says September’s index came in at 57.5, down from a strong August index of 61.1. This is the 22nd straight month that the index has remained above the growth neutral number of 50.
The index indicated that the wholesale inflation index points to another Federal Reserve rate hike in December.
Goss says the report shows that one-half of the supply managers surveyed indicate negative impacts from recently imposed tariffs. He says, “The tariffs are having some impact. Steel prices are up 19% this year alone, since January. 19%. That is pushing other prices up as well but regional manufacturing, regional manufactures are still doing well but not quite as strong as we we saw before.”
The report also indicates that one-fourth of supply mangers support reducing or eliminating those tariffs. Otherwise, Goss says the regional economy, that includes Nebraska, continues to expand at a healthy pace.
The September employment index fell to 56.2, down from August’s 58.5 for the region.
The September Business Conditions Index for Nebraska dropped to 55.1, down from August’s 61.9. Supply managers’ report that new orders came in at 58.2, production or sales at 55.3, delivery lead time at 53.7, inventories at 54.1 and employment at 54.2. “Over the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Nebraska employers decreased the hourly work week by 1.2 percent but increased average hourly pay by 2.7 percent, slightly below the regional medial,” says Goss.