Survey: Midwest economy still strong

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy remains strong in nine Midwest and Plains states, but a monthly survey of business leaders released Monday suggests the growth rate may slow in the months ahead.

The overall index for the region declined to 55.6 in June from 56.2 in May, but any score above 50 suggests growth.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said business leaders expect slower growth in the next few months. Modest job growth is also expected as the hiring index dropped to 53.7 in June from May’s 59.3.

“Increasing interest rates and a strengthening U.S. dollar have, and will continue to have, negative but modest impacts for businesses in the region, particularly those tied to agriculture. Even so, the regional job growth will remain positive but sluggish,” he said.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The overall index for Missouri rose slightly in June to 54.7 from 54.6 in May. The index includes new orders at 55.6, production or sales at 61, delivery lead time at 52.2, inventories at 46.7, and employment at 58.2. “Expansions among durable goods manufacturers, including metal producers, more than offset cuts for nondurables goods manufacturers for the month,” Goss said.

The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below that suggests decline.

The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, declined for the fourth-straight month to 58.4 in June, down from 61.2 in May.

“Not only is wholesale inflation tame, it is headed lower,” Goss said.

But business leaders are less confident in the economy because of the recent rise in interest rates. The confidence index dropped to 51.1 in June from May’s 59.4.

The June inventory index declined to 51.6 from May’s 56.2. That suggests that businesses are being more cautious about accumulating inventory.

The export index dipped to 52.9 in June from May’s 55.9. The import index also declined to 52.9 in June from May’s 53.5.

The other components of June’s overall index were:

• New orders increased to 57 from May’s 54.8.

• Production or sales grew to 60.3 in June, up from 57.3.

• Delivery lead time increased to 55.4 in June from May’s 53.6.

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