Omaha Little economic growth is expected over the next several months in nine Midwest and Plains states because problems in the global economy are slowing business in the region, according to a new survey released Tuesday.
The region's economy still appears much healthier than it did during the recession of 2008 and 2009, but the debt concerns in Europe and sluggish pace of the nation's economy are causing a slowdown, Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said.
The overall index in the survey of business leaders and supply managers slipped to a neutral score of 50 in December from 52.6 in November. The survey uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Goss says that any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor.
Even though the current economic conditions appear weak, business leaders are optimistic about the future. The survey's confidence index jumped to 59.2 in December from November's 49.1, suggesting business will pick up starting six months from now.
The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The outlook for jobs appears flat across the region with the employment index remaining unchanged at 49.5 in December.
"Our surveys over the last five months indicate that job growth in the region has slowed significantly," Goss said.
Inflation will likely continue to be a concern. The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, rose in December to 62.4 from November's 60.9.
Exports were a bright spot in the report. The export order index grew to 56.3 in December from 52.1 the previous month.
The import index slipped to 48 from November's 49.5.
The inventory index dropped to 46.7 in December from November's 52.9, so it doesn't appear that businesses added to their inventories last month.
The other components of December's overall index were:
— New orders increased to 52.3 from November's 52.
— Production or sales declined to 48.4 from November's 52.4.
— And delivery lead time decreased in December to 53.3 from November's 56.5.