A monthly survey of business leaders across the Midwest finds the economic picture is looking up for all nine states, while Iowa’s numbers for January were the highest in the region.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the survey shows solid gains during the month. “That number was up for the third straight month into a reasonably healthy range,” Goss says. “We’ve had stronger numbers but we’ve had weaker numbers. This is pointing to an expanding economy for the nine-state region, expanding at a little bit of an improving rate for the next three to six months.”
While the Midwest weathered the recession better than many other areas of the country, Goss says there are continuing signs that the region is still recovering more slowly. “The numbers that we’re going to see from the U.S. are going to be stronger, in other words, the U.S. economy is probably going to outperform the Mid-American economy,” Goss says. “They’re both going to be on a positive trajectory.”
Manufacturers of both durable and nondurable goods reported healthy January business activity. Goss predicts Iowa’s economy will continue to expand for the next three to six months, but at a slower pace than recorded for the same period in 2013. The region has gained back all of the job losses from during the recession and Goss says, contrary to the rest of the nation, the size of the labor force here is now at its highest level ever.
“We had job gains for the month,” Goss says. “The job index is looking much better, but along with that, we did have inflationary pressures up for the month and, of course, that’s a real concern.”
Business leaders in Iowa and the eight other states were asked about pay changes for 2014 and indications show wage gains are expected for the year ahead of about two-and-a-half percent.