A monthly survey of business leaders and supply managers in nine Midwestern states, including Iowa, indicates the region can expect slow economic growth over the next three to six months.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. “Much like the nation, the Mid-America economy is just not growing,” Goss says. “Manufacturing is actually pulling back. The overall economy in the first and second quarter of this year…I expect growth to be anemic at best.”
The Mid-America Business Conditions Index increased to 53.2 in January, up from 49.5 in December. The index ranges from zero to 100 — with 50 considered “growth neutral.”
Goss says few business owners plan to boost employment and the drought and a decline in new export orders are mostly to blame. “The export orders were horrible…dropping off the table,” Goss says. “The lingering impacts of the drought affects the farm sector, but it also affects the businesses that sell to the farm.”
Export orders are down across nearly all of the Midwest states, according to Goss, because of global economic weakness. Goss notes that Iowa has posted the strongest numbers, in terms of exports, among the nine states surveyed. “I’m not sure what accounts for that,” Goss said.
In addition to Iowa, Goss’ survey covers Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.