Economist Ernie Goss

The latest monthly survey of supply managers and business leaders in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states finds the numbers climbing for the fourth straight month.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the February report of leading economic indicators is very encouraging.

“The overall index moves to its highest level since June of 2014,” Goss says. “Obviously, that’s good. The index ranges between zero and 100 and 50 is growth neutral. This was well above that. It expanded to 60.5. Now, that’s not like your high school chemistry score, that’s good!”

The overall index specifically for Iowa leapt by a huge margin, from nearly 52 in January to almost 63 in February. For the region, Goss says the business confidence index in this new survey soared to its highest level in six years.

“What that tells us is, the nine-state regional economy is likely to expand in the next three-to-six months,” Goss says, “and expand at a pretty good pace.”

The survey finds the region is adding manufacturing jobs at a solid pace, though the wholesale inflation gauge is also rising to its highest level since April of 2014.

“We’ve got some inflationary pressures, they’re building,” Goss says. “This is at the wholesale level so supply managers are telling us they’re paying more and more for these raw materials and supplies.”

Goss says the recent surveys point to solid growth in Iowa for the next six months with up to 4,500 job additions.

It shows Iowa’s leading industries are food processing and ethanol production, while the lagging industries include metal manufacturers and agriculture equipment producers.