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Business leaders say area's economy improving with reopening
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Business leaders say area's economy improving with reopening

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OMAHA — Business leaders say the economy has begun to recover as businesses reopened in the past month in nine Midwest and Plains states, but it remains weaker than before the coronavirus outbreak began, according to a monthly survey released Wednesday.

The overall index for the region jumped into positive territory at 50.3 in June from May’s 43.5. The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below 50 suggests decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the region’s overall index will have to remain above 50 for many months before the economy reaches the level it was at before states began imposing restrictions because of the coronavirus.

The confidence index improved to 65.3 in June from May’s 56.6 showing that business leaders expect the economy to continue improving over the next six months.

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

Job losses continue in the region. The employment index declined to 38.9 in June from May’s 40.

Businesses were paying higher wholesale prices over the past month. The wholesale price index increased to 59.7 in June from May’s 48.6.

Here are the state-by-state results for June:

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Iowa: The overall index once again slumped below growth neutral. However, the reading climbed to a weak 47.1 from 41.9 in May. Components of the index were: new orders at 50.2, production. or sales at 56.1, delivery lead time at 43.2, employment at 35.7, and inventories at 50.2. Iowa has lost 161,000 jobs, or approximately 10%, of its employment since the outbreak began earlier this year, Goss said.

Arkansas: The state’s overall index rose to 50.9 from May’s 43.7. Components of the June index were: new orders at 58.7, production or sales at 55.2, delivery lead time at 47.4, inventories at 54.4, and employment at 38.8. “Since the onset of COVID-19, Arkansas has lost 88,000 jobs, or almost 7% of its employment. Our surveys point to a flattening of employment with only slight job gains in the months ahead,” Goss said.

Kansas: The state’s index increased to 45.1 from May’s 42.8. Components of the index were: new orders at 57.1, production or sales at 30.1, delivery lead time at 46.6, employment at 38.2, and inventories at 53.6. Kansas has lost more than 108,000 jobs, or approximately 7.6%, of its employment during the pandemic, Goss said.

Minnesota: The overall index increased to 45.0 from 39.8 in May. Components were: new orders at 45.4, production or sales at 56.5, delivery lead time at 40.9, inventories at 47.9, and employment at 34.0. Goss said the state has lost more than 350,000 jobs, or almost 12%, of its employment. Only slight job gains are expected in the months ahead, he said.

Missouri: The overall index climbed to 50.5 from 42.3 in May. Components were: new orders at 51.3, production or sales at 56.0, delivery lead time at 49.8, inventories at 50.8, and employment at 44.6. “Since the onset of COVID-19, the state has lost 262,000 jobs, or approximately 9.0% of its employment. Our surveys point to a flattening of employment with only slight job gains in the months ahead,” Goss said.

Nebraska: The state’s overall index for June rose to 52.6 from 43.9 in May. Components were: new orders at 59.1, production or sales at 55.2, delivery lead time at 55.5, inventories at 54.6, and employment at 38.9. Nebraska has lost almost 77,000 jobs, or approximately 7.5%, of its employment since the outbreak began, Goss said.

North Dakota: The overall index climbed to 51.6 from 43.4 in May. Components were: new orders at 55.1, production or sales at 55.6, delivery lead time at 57.1, employment at 37.5, and inventories at 52.6. North Dakota has lost approximately 41,000 jobs, or roughly 9.4% of its employment since the onset of the pandemic, Goss said.

Oklahoma: The state’s index moved above growth neutral in June, to 53.1 from May’s 43.0. Components were: new orders at 59.9, production or sales at 55.1, delivery lead time at 56.2, inventories at 55.0, and employment at 39.2. Oklahoma has lost almost 108,000 jobs in this period.

South Dakota: The index increased to 52.4 from May’s 43.8. Components were: new orders at 57.7, production or sales at 55.3, delivery lead time at 56.7, inventories at 53.9, and employment at 38.4. The state has lost approximately 34,000 jobs in this period.

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