Monday, October 01, 2012

Mid-America Leading Economic Indicator Inches Forward: Very Weak Fourth Quarter Ahead for Region

September survey results at a glance:

· After two straight months of below growth neutral readings, the leading economic indicator moved above this threshold for the month.

· Lowest employment gauge in over three years, indicates job losses for September.

· Export orders index sink below growth neutral for third straight month.

· Indicators point to slight positive economic growth for the final quarter of 2012.

For Immediate Release: Oct. 1, 2012

YouTube interview with Professor Goss can be seen at:

OMAHA, Neb. – After two straight months below growth neutral the monthly Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a leading economic indicator for a nine-state region, inched above this threshold for September. Surveys over the past several months signal zero to slight positive economic growth for the region for the final quarter of 2012.

Overall index: The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, rose to a weak 50.4 from 49.7 in August. “Growth in the regional economy has definitely slowed. Surveys over the past several months point to flat to slight growth for the fourth quarter of this year. However, two states with significant dependence on energy, North Dakota and Oklahoma, will continue to expand at a solid pace in the final quarter of the year according to our survey results,” said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics.

Employment: The economic slowdown is pushing the regional employment index lower. The index once again sank below growth neutral to a weak 46.1 from 49.5 in August. This is lowest job reading recorded since shortly after the recession ended in 2009. “The manufacturing sector has been shedding jobs over the past several months. I expect the regional economy to lose both manufacturing and non-manufacturing jobs, albeit at a slow pace, in the final quarter of 2012. Gains for Iowa, North Dakota and Oklahoma will be more than offset by losses for the other six states in the region,” said Goss.

Wholesale Prices: The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of purchased raw materials and supplies, advanced to 66.0 from August’s 65.2 and was much higher than July’s 51.1. “The combination of drought conditions and the Federal Reserve’s easy or cheap money policies are driving the wholesale level higher. Higher food and commodity prices at the wholesale level, as indicated in our surveys, will surface in upturns in consumer prices in the months ahead,” said Goss.

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