Figures from a survey of supply managers in Kansas, Missouri and seven other Midwest states have risen for the third month in a row, according to a report, suggesting more improvement in the regional economy.
The Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 50.6 in March, compared with 50.5 in February, 48.3 in January and 39.6 in December.
But the strong U.S. dollar and weakness among the nation’s major trading partners are continuing to restrain regional growth, said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.
“The strong U.S. dollar not only undermines exports, it also reduces the value of foreign earnings,” Goss said in a news release. “The strong dollar has made U.S. goods much less competitively priced abroad.”
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The index for new export orders rose to a growth neutral 50.0 in March from 46.1 in February. The import index rose to 55.4 from February’s 50.1.
The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline.
The survey covers Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The regional employment gauge remained below growth neutral but increased to 45.9 from February’s 44.4.