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Creighton University's Mid-America Business Conditions Index was at a record low of 33.0 for December. The report, found here, is based on a survey of supply managers in the region. An index of 50 is considered growth-neutral."
The survey showed job losses for the eleventh time in the past 12 months. Inflation has turned to deflation, and export orders have plunged. North Dakota and Oklahoma are the only states in the region where leading economic indicators are above "growth-neutral."
A Creighton economics professor and the head of the university's Economic Forecasting Group says that the downturn for what the university calls Mid-America will be deeper than it was in 2001. He also says that the employment reading in December was the "weakest that we have recorded since we began the study in 1994." In the survey, trade numbers were weak thanks to economic weakness among trading partners. Most components of the index were down, including new orders, production, inventories and delivery lead time.
A interesting and quick look back at the December 2007 Mid-America Business Conditions Index showed opposite results:
The headline for that report: Mid-America Business Conditions Index Surges for December, Largest One-Month Increase in Almost Five Years.
And the results: Cheap dollar stimulating exports, region adding jobs for first time since September, and higher energy prices pushing inflation to highest level since March 2007. The only consistent piece in the year-ago survey was that the confidence of the region's purchasing managers was starting to wane. (See the year-ago survey here.)
The Economic Forecasting Group uses the same methodology for this survey as the Institute for Supply Management does for its closely watched monthly reports on business. States included in the Mid-America survey are: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota."