A monthly survey shows supply managers for businesses in nine Midwestern states, including Iowa, are expecting “soft growth” over the first half of 2014. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss compiles the Mid-America Business Conditions Index, which climbed to 53.2 last month from 51.2 in November. “It was a reasonably good report,” Goss said. “The overall reading is above growth neutral for the second month in a row.”
The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests decline. The survey shows many supply managers are not feeling confident about inflationary pressures. “In fact, about one-third of them indicated their chief concern for the economy going forward is the increasing costs of the inputs and supplies that they purchase,” Goss said.
Businesses tied to agriculture are reporting softer economic conditions, according to Goss. “Ag is going through a tougher time right now with crop prices which are down by 35-percent over the last year and that’s being telegraphed back to the businesses that we survey each month,” Goss said. In addition to Iowa, the survey covers Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.