Creighton economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says its overall index dropped fractionally to 53.2 in February…just above the neutral point of 50.
“Much like the national economy, the economic trajectory of the Mid-America region will remain on a sluggish course,” says Goss.
“Even though the housing sector is clearly getting back on its feet, manufacturing, especially manufacturing connected to global markets, continues to restrain overall growth for the region and nation.”
The region’s employment index rose 2.7 points to 48.9…which Goss says is consistent with little to no job growth…the prices-paid index, which tracks inflation at the wholesale level, was up fractionally to 72.6…and the new export orders index rose nearly 4 points, but was still below 50 at 49.2.
Despite those negative numbers, the confidence index…how the supply managers see the economy 6 months from now stayed on the positive, although it did drop 6 full points to 560.6.
Goss says the impact of sequestration was a major concern for the supply managers, with 35% of them expecting the cut in federal spending to result in a reduction in unit sales for their company.
The Creighton survey offers numbers for each of the nine states as well as for the region.
Nebraska’s overall index dropped below growth-neutral for the second time in 3 months…falling from 50.5 to 48.7. Goss says that while Nebraska bucked the regional and national trend over the past 3 years with a growing labor force and falling unemployment rate, the survey shows the positive trajectory is ending with slow to no growth projected for the next 3-to-6 months.
South Dakota’s overall index was above growth-neutral for the 3rd straight month…but dropped a point from January to 52.5. Goss says the state’s unemployment rate has dropped about a point since the recession ended in 2009, thanks largely to growth in manufacturing, with the survey indicating job growth in manufacturing and overall will continue, but at a slower rate.