A survey finds Iowa’s economy improved for the fifth time in seven months. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says they question supply managers in Iowa and in eight other states across the region every month. Goss says the results of the February survey were the best in nearly three years.
Goss says, “Our leading economic indicator rose to its highest level since before the recession began.” Goss says, “Readings over the past several months indicate that the regional economic rebound that is underway will pick up steam in the months ahead.” He says a series of questions are asked every month to the dozens of business leaders and supply managers in the nine states. Goss says they’ve chosen key people in a wide array of the region’s industries.
“These are sort of the canaries in the coal mine,” Goss says. “So if they’re seeing good things right now, then we in the broader economy will see good things in the months ahead.” Job gains were reported for two straight months for the first time since July of 2007, while inventories expanded for the first time since September 2008. Overall, Goss says the leading economic indicator showed encouraging results.
“It was a quite unexpected, for me, increase in the number,” Goss says. “The number was actually well above growth neutral, into the 60 territory. Of course, zero to 100, 50 being growth neutral. It was a good report.” A score over 50 indicates growth. Over the past year, Iowa has lost more than 17,000 manufacturing jobs, or more than eight-percent of its manufacturing job base. Almost 90-percent of the producer job losses were in durable goods manufacturing.
Based on the Creighton surveys, Goss says he expects no more manufacturing job losses and minimal overall job gains for the state in the second quarter of 2010. He says he expects the overall regional economy to expand in the months ahead, but we’ll continue to see job growth subdued, especially for rural areas of the nine-state region.