Mid-America Business Conditions Index highest since July 2015

The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index for February, a leading economic indicator for a nine-state region that includes Missouri, expanded for a second straight month.

Overall index: The February Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, improved to a still soft 50.5 from January’s 48.3.  Over the past several months, the regional index, much like the national reading, has indicated that the manufacturing sector is experiencing anemic, but stabilizing, economic conditions.

“A strong U.S. dollar and weakness among the nation’s chief trading partners remains a restraint on regional growth. For example against the currency of region’s primary trading partner, Canada, the U.S. dollar has strengthened by 30 percent since July 2014.  This upturn has made U.S. goods much less competitively priced in Canada,” said Ernie Goss, Ph.D., director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business.

Missouri: The February Business Conditions Index for Missouri increased to 52.3 from January’s 47.7. Components of the index from the survey of supply managers were new orders at 52.3, production or sales at 54.0, delivery lead time at 56.3, inventories at 55.3, and employment at 44.2. “Over the past 12 months, the state has added 1,200 manufacturing jobs for a gain of 0.5 percent. Our surveys over the past several months indicate the manufacturing sector is now shedding jobs, but at a very slow pace. I expect recent additions to new orders to translate into jobs gains for the broader state economy with moderate job gains for the overall state economy through quarter two of this year,” reported Goss.

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