Heartland exports and imports grew slower in December while manufacturing and business confidence reached a new high. NAFTA in question.

January 8, 2017 – Still very strong, but at a slightly lower growth, the Heartland December new export orders registered 63.9, down slightly from November’s 65.8.

This according to the latest survey of 9-state regional purchasing managers, and as reported by Ernie Goss, Ph.D., director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business, who compiles the Heartland International Index for IBNewsmag.

cutsheet Image Goss

Imports slowed some as well notching a 53.9 in December, down from 59.8 in November. Any reading above 50.0 signifies growth.

“Over the past 12 months, the regional manufacturing sector has added approximately 29,000 jobs, a 2.1 percent expansion,” Prof. Goss said. “This annual regional manufacturing growth rate significantly exceeds the 1.5 percent growth for US manufacturing.”

“Expanding regional growth supported purchases of inputs from abroad, while growth among important trading partners underpinned the new export orders at a healthy level,” said Prof. Goss.

Only 21.8 percent of supply managers expect an abolition of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to negatively affect their company. “Given that states within the region exported $35.4 billion of goods to Canada and Mexico in 2016, supporting approximately 210,000 jobs, it is surprising to measure little concern regarding the abolition of NAFTA,” reported Prof.Goss.

Looking ahead six months, the December business confidence index rose to 73.2 last month from 71.9 in November.
“Healthy profit growth, still low interest rates and the recently passed tax reform package pushed business confidence to its highest level since January 2011,” Prof. Goss said.

The regional jobs picture showed improvement as well, as the December employment index climbed to 57.7, compared with 53.6 in November.

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