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October survey shows growth, but scant confidence in economy

Business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states indicate significant jumps were made in employment and inventories over the last month, but confidence in the economy over the next six month remained at a dismal low, according to a new monthly survey.

The overall index for October of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions released Monday rose to 65.2 from September’s 61.6.

Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession.

But the survey’s business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, failed to budge from 37 recorded in September. That’s the lowest reading the confidence index has reached since March 2020, when the global COVID-19 pandemic began.

The report indicates that the region is adding manufacturing business activity at a positive but somewhat slower pace.

“Almost one-third of supply managers reported that inventory stockpiling has contributed significantly to supply chain bottlenecks,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the monthly survey.

Business leaders reported strong job growth, with the employment index rising to 66.1 in October from September’s 56.7. Even so, the region has yet to recover all job losses from the pandemic, Goss said.

Wholesale prices continue to climb, with that index registering 96.5 from September’s 94.9, indicating growing pressure from inflation.

The overall index for Missouri rose to 64.4 from 61.4 in September. Components of the index were: New orders at 49.5, production or sales at 72.5, delivery lead time at 77.2, inventories at 62.7, and employment at 60.3. “Over the past 12 months, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Missouri manufacturing employment expanded by 2.0%, eighth in the region, with a gain in average hourly wages of 0.6%, lowest in the region,” Goss said.

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

 

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