OMAHA, Ne -- Economic growth in the Midwest is down for a second month in a row.
December's nine-state Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 64.1 from November’s 69.0--on a scale of zero to 100.
"Growth is slowing somewhat, and that is a concern. Right now it's still in the positive growth range" says Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss.
An index reading of 50 is considered growth-neutral.
Goss says last month's survey of Midwest business leaders matches a national pattern of steady but slowing growth.
"We still need to see several more months of above growth-neutral to get back to pre-COVID pandemic levels" he says
Goss says the latest Mid-America Business Conditions Index is highlighting an economic challenge for the new year.
"Thirty-six percent of those surveyed indicated that finding and hiring qualified workers workers was their biggest concern for 2021" he says.
Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the December Business Confidence Index, plummeted to 45.8 from November’s 50.0.
“A sharp upturn in COVID-19 infections, along with more economic lockdowns, weighted on December’s economic outlook” Goss says.
The Mid-America Business Conditions Index surveys business leaders in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.