Heartland manufacturing and exports growing, but slowing slightly

August 4, 2017 – Creighton University yesterday released its latest Mid-America Business Conditions index, which fell to 56.1 in July from June’s 62.3. For Minnesota, the index fell from June’s 68 to 63.2. Any figure above 50 indicates growth, so economists were not put off by the monthly change and noted that June’s increase was unusually large.

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“The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy,” said Prof. Ernie Goss the report’s author and director of Creighton’s Economic Forecasting Group.

Although not tabulated separately, the healthy regional manufacturing points to solid growth for both manufacturing and therefore exporting for the second half of 2017.

The region — which includes Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Oklahoma — saw a downturn in imports and exports during the month. Prof. Goss noted that a weaker US dollar made exports more desirable to foreign buyers, but imports more expensive; and that Japan’s decision to raise the tariff on frozen beef imports was expected to hurt producers in Kansas and Nebraska.

In Minnesota, overall results were “very healthy” and particularly strong for medical equipment, computer, electronic and other technology-linked manufacturers. Their “expanded growth for the month more than offset slight weakness among metal producers in Minnesota,” Prof. Goss said.
Surveyed Minnesota manufacturers noted that production, sales and employment remained very strong during the month.

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