Midwest manufacturing expands faster than jobs

Manufacturing activity jumped in the Midwest last month, according to a Creighton University survey of companies’ purchasing managers in nine states.

An index based on the survey results climbed to 60.4 from 58.2 in March. Any reading above 50 shows expansion in economic activity.

The national purchasing managers index from the Institute for Supply Management rose to 54.9 in April from 53.7 in March.

Creighton’s regional index reached its highest level in three years thanks in part to strong export orders and higher inflation.

“It is a very encouraging signal to track a sixth straight month of healthy new export orders. At the same time, firms in the region continued purchasing from abroad in expectations of upturns in company sales in the weeks and months ahead,” said Creighton economics professor Ernie Goss.

A separate index for Missouri climbed to 54.8 from 53.8 in March. A Kansas index jumped to 61.0 from 54.6 in March.

But manufacturing’s expansion in both states continues to have limited jobs impact, Goss said. He said each has about 15 percent fewer manufacturing workers than before the recession.