OMAHA, Nebraska -- A new survey of Midwest business leaders is showing an economic downturn for the first time since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
November's nine-state Mid-America Business Conditions Index shows a reading of 48--down from October's 53.1.
"Since March of 2022 the readings have moved lower, and lower, and lower. This is the first time since May of 2020 that the reading has moved below growth neutral," says Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss.
Any index reading below 50 shows economic decline.
He says the new index and other economic indicators points to a recession the first part of 2023.
"We're looking at a recession. The probabilities of a recession are rising every month now. This is not good, according to the November survey," Goss says.
He says if there is a recession early next year, he expects it to be shallow.
Goss says the business leaders questioned for the survey continue to say rising input prices are their top concern.
"Inflation will remain above five-and-a-half, to six, to seven percent for the rest of the year," Goss says.
As for employment, Goss says the new Mid-America Business Conditions Index is continuing to show challenges in the labor market--just as it did in October.
"They (regional manufacturers) have job openings, and not many are coming in to fill those positions. This is the first time since the pandemic--that would be June and July of 2020--when we had two straight months when the employment was below growth neutral," he says.
The monthly nine-state Mid-America Business Conditions Index surveys business leaders in Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.