Midwest economy shows more growth in January

OMAHA, Nebraska -- The Midwest economy is showing more growth in the first month of 2021.

The nine-state Midwest Business Conditions Index for January shows a reading of 67.3--up from December’s 64.1.

An Index reading of 50 is considered growth-neutral on a zero-to-100 scale.

"I expect this to continue, and with a COVID-19 vaccine coming out across the region--not as much vaccine as we'd like to see--we should see those numbers improve in the weeks and months ahead" says Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss.

He says while the overall economy is good, he's keeping a close eye on regional employment numbers that still haven't recovered from COVID-19 layoffs last spring.

"It's down about 4.7 percent year-over-year--January of 2020 through January of 2021. We're down about 4.8 percent from pre-COVID levels" Goss says.

Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the January Business Confidence Index, jumped to 53.6 from December’s weak 45.8.

"The completed presidential elections, a COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and a weak dollar making U.S. manufactured goods more competitively price abroad, have bolstered economic confidence among manufacturing supply managers,” said Goss.

The monthly Midwest Business Conditions Index surveys business managers in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.

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