Manufacturing activity slowed sharply in the Midwest last month, falling to the same sluggish pace of growth seen nationally, according to surveys of companies’ purchasing managers.
The regional economic reading came from surveys in nine states, including Missouri and Kansas, conducted by Creighton University. An economic index generated from the surveys fell to 51.4 in March from February’s more robust 57.0.
Nationally, the survey-based index generated by the Institute for Supply Management dipped to 51.5 from 52.9 in February.
Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the economy, but the declines toward 50 show a slowdown in growth. Readings below 50 would mean the economy contracted.
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Midwestern companies that make goods with limited shelf lives, such as food processors and ethanol producers, told surveyors that sales, production and employment had weakened in the last several months, Creighton’s nine-state report said. Failing energy prices have weighed on energy-producing states in the region, though Creighton said it has not found “substantial negative outcomes” for North Dakota or Oklahoma.
A separate index for Missouri fell to 52.1 from 56.8 in February. In Kansas, the reading slid to 50.7 from 52.7 in February.
The weaker readings follow a report Tuesday from the National Association of Credit Management that similarly found a slowdown nationally.