Business index moves above growth neutral

OMAHA, Neb. (WNAX) – The December Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a leading economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from the Dakotas and Minnesota to Arkansas, moved above growth neutral.

Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group, says business conditions improved slightly.

Goss says the December employment index also increased from November.

Goss says finding workers will be the biggest challenge for businesses again this year.

The weakness in the region’s manufacturing and agriculture sector has spilled over into the broader regional economy. Over the past 12 months, the Mid-America region has added jobs at a seven tenths of a percent pace, or less than half the one and a half percent rate of the U.S. economy.

Looking ahead six months, Goss says economic optimism, as captured by the December Business Confidence Index, climbed to 57.6 from November’s 52.9.