OMAHA, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — Confidence in business conditions has plummeted to the lowest level since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest regional economic report produced by Omaha’s Creighton University.
Only about 4% of supply managers surveyed in a nine-state region that includes Nebraska expect the U.S. economy to expand in the next six months.
June findings released Friday from Creighton’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index revealed an overall score that still was above growth neutral for the 25th straight month.
However, with growth neutral being 50 in a range from zero to 100, the score dropped to 58.6, from 60 in May.
“Results indicate the region continues to add manufacturing activity at a solid pace but is pointing to slower growth with significant inflationary pressures ahead,” said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton’s economic forecasting group, which produces the report.
The regional survey examines conditions on a statewide level, too. Nebraska’s overall index for June slipped to 66.6 from May’s 68.6.
Goss said that while supply chain disruptions eased regionally, and manufacturing jobs grew at a “modest pace,” supply managers were pessimistic looking ahead to the next six months.
He said inflation was a driving factor.
The gloomy outlook was captured in the business confidence-specific index, which dropped from 21.7 in May to 17.3 in June.
Goss said that was the lowest confidence index recorded since the 14.5 of March 2020, the beginning of COVID-19.
(Goss said his report covering February of this year inaccurately stated that the confidence index at that time hit a record low for the survey’s history. That was around the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The record low, Goss said, actually was recorded at the onset of the pandemic.)
Creighton’s economic forecasting group has conducted the monthly survey of supply managers since 1994 to produce leading economic indicators for the region. Other states represented in the report are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Goss said that among the nine states, only South Dakota and Arkansas had seasonally adjusted, non-farm employment above pre-pandemic levels. He said “significant” inflationary pressures remain in the manufacturing region, and expects that those should soften as the price of a barrel of oil begins to decline.
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