A monthly index of economic growth in a nine-state Midwest region dipped for the second consecutive month in April, but with indications that companies are boosting their hiring.
By STEVE ROSEN
The Kansas City Star
The Mid-America Business Conditions index dropped to 56.8 in April from 58.2 in March, according to a report released Wednesday by Creighton University in Omaha. But the survey noted that the economy in the region should continue to grow over the next three to six months.
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 Kansas and Missouri along with Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The employment component of the survey rose to 60.7 in April from March’s 56.3, the third consecutive month for growth.
“Companies in the region are increasing the pace of new hiring,” said Creighton economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. “For the entire region, I expect the employment to rise to pre-recession levels this summer. … The region’s employment level is off less than one-half of a percentage point from pre-recession levels.”
However, Goss said, hiring in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas is “lagging well behind the remainder of the states.”
Goss said the 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 have noticed any effects from the cut.
Managers also were asked what outcome they expected from President Barack Obama’s health care law.
“Approximately half of the businesses surveyed have experienced or expect to experience negative impacts” from the Affordable Care Act, Goss said.
Here’s what the report said about business conditions in Kansas and Missouri:
• Kansas: “The state’s current employment level is still down by almost 19,000 jobs, or 1.3 percent,” Goss said. “Recent growth among durable goods manufacturers has lagged that of nondurable goods producers.”
• Missouri: “Since the recession began in 2007, Missouri underperformed all other states in the region in terms of job creation,” Goss said. “Compared to pre-recession levels, Missouri’s employment is still down more than 120,000 jobs, or 4.3 percent.”
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