A survey of business owners across Iowa and eight other Midwestern states finds falling employment, stagnant spending and lagging consumer confidence. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the August report contained mostly dark clouds in the forecast for the state and regional economies, with a few glimpses of sunshine.

“The index dropped for the fourth time in the past five months,” Goss says. “The overall reading is approaching growth neutral, so what our survey is pointing to is an economy that is slowing down, slowing down fairly significantly, but we’ve still got (a prediction of) positive growth in the months ahead.”

On the plus side, he says indications point toward slow-to-no growth, not a recession. However, Goss says much of the financial progress we’ve seen over the previous year has vanished. “We have whittled away at those gains each and every month and that’s been happening really since about April,” Goss says.

“Growth has come down and down and down. It’s going to continue to come down and we’re teetering on a recession.” The regional readings for August were the lowest Creighton has recorded since December of 2009 and Goss says it clearly indicates growth is waning with an increasing likelihood of a recession.

“We stand a real good chance of moving into recessionary territory, particularly with what we’re seeing out of Washington which is not much,” Goss says. Iowa’s economy continues to grow at a solid pace with the few negative signals, he says. Both durable and nondurable manufacturing firms report healthy business activity.

Firms with close ties to agriculture, like ag equipment manufacturing, continue to grow with large spillovers into the rest of the state economy.