Midwest, Plains economic survey index dips

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 | 1:42 p.m. CDT

OMAHA, Neb. — A monthly economic survey index for nine Midwest and Plains states dipped for the second consecutive month in April, but the survey's organizer said the index indicates slow growth for the region in the coming three to six months.

The Mid-America Business Conditions index dropped to 56.8 in April, compared with 58.2 in March, according to a report released Friday.

Businesses leaders were slightly more optimistic about the regional economy in the next six months, with the April business confidence index rising to 59.9 from 58.2 in March.

The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below that suggests decline.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Those surveyed expect an upturn in housing to boost the economy, said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. Goss also said that automatic federal spending cuts that took effect March 1 have had almost no effect on supply managers' outlook, with only one-fourth of survey respondents reporting that they've noticed any effects from the cut.

Supply managers in April also were asked what outcome they expected from President Barack Obama's health care law.

"Approximately 50 percent have experienced, or expect to experience negative impacts," Goss said. "Only 2 percent anticipate positive impacts, while the remaining 48 percent expect little or no impact on their business."

Here's a look at the other components of the overall index:

  • Exports improved to 54.5 in April, from 50.9 in March.
  • Imports also improved to 58.4 from March's 55.0 and February's 53.7.
  • Inventories fell to 50.6 from March's 58.1.
  • Production or sales improved to 63.2 from March's 62.4.


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