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May survey report suggests slow economic growth still ahead for Midwest, Plains


OMAHA, Nebraska — Slower economic growth is likely through the end of the third quarter this year for nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a report issued Monday.

The survey report says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 50.4 last month from 52.7 April. Survey organizers have said any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said "firms linked to energy and agriculture are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity."

"Job growth in Oklahoma and North Dakota, two energy-producing states, has moved into negative territory," Goss said. And states dependent on agriculture also are experiencing slower economic growth, which Goss said could slacken even further in the next few months.

The survey results from supply managers were compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as reflected by the May business confidence index, declined to 58.3 from April's 61.5.

"Weak regional and national growth has pushed supply managers to lower their expectations about future economic conditions," Goss said.

On the trade front, the survey report said the new export orders index slid to 50.0 from 53.5 in April. The import index for May rose to a still weak 48.8 from April's 46.8.

"Over the last year, the value of the U.S. dollar has risen by more than 16 percent against the currencies of our chief trading partners," Goss said. "This movement has made U.S. goods less competitively priced abroad and foreign goods more cheaply priced in the U.S. ... I expect the export orders index to move even lower in the months ahead and the slow-growth U.S. economy to continue to limit imports."

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