The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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September 4, 2013

Midwest, Plains economy should keep growing

OMAHA, Neb. — The economy should continue growing during the rest of 2013 in nine Midwest and Plains states but at a much slower pace than earlier this year, according to a monthly survey of business leaders that was released Tuesday.

The survey’s overall economic index remained in positive territory and rose to 53.8 in August from July’s 53.5.

“Our results point to positive growth for the final quarter of this year but at approximately half the rate of the first quarter. Both exports and farm income growth are down from earlier in the year,” said Ernie Goss, the Creighton University economist who oversees the survey.

Job growth is also likely to remain weak because manufacturers with ties to agriculture and international markets were cutting employment in August, Goss said. The jobs index declined to 52.8 in August from July’s 55.3.

The indexes in the survey report all range from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below that suggests decline.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Goss said the business leaders surveyed are less optimistic about the next few months because they’re worried about international tensions and have questions about the implementation of health care reform.

The confidence index slipped to 53.9 in August from July’s 56.9.

The survey also suggests more inflation in the months ahead because the prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, rose to 61.8 in August from 58 in July.

For the first time in eight months, the survey suggested businesses were cutting back on inventory because that index dipped to 49.4 in August from 52.7 in July.

The other components of the August overall index were:

• The export index grew to 56.2 from July’s 50.

• The import index fell to 49.3 in August from 53.6.

• New orders increased to 56.8 from July’s 52.2.

• The production or sales index soared to 60.1 in August from 54.2.

• And the delivery lead time index slid to 50 from July’s 53.3.

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