OMAHA — A new monthly survey of business leaders suggests the economy is slowing down in nine Midwest and Plains states as the U.S. trade war with China continues, according to a report released Monday.
The overall index for the region slipped into negative territory at 48.6 in November from October’s 52.6.
Nebraska saw an even bigger decline, with its overall index falling to 48.2 from October’s 53.7.
The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline.
“Slow global growth and trade skirmishes and wars are negatively affecting growth among manufacturers in the region,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.
In addition to Nebraska, the survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
The regional trade numbers showed new export orders falling to 39.1 from October’s 44.7. But imports increased to 52 in November from last month’s 48.2 as supply managers bought additional items ahead of higher tariffs expected in the weeks ahead.
The region’s employment index fell to 37.2 in November from October’s 50 as some businesses struggled to find workers to hire. Goss said the availability of workers continues to constrain job growth in the region.
The confidence index, which measures sentiment about the next six months, improved to 52.9 in November from October’s 47.3. Goss said business confidence will depend on the progress in trade talks with China and the passage of the nation's trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The wholesale price index, which measures inflation, increased to 65.7 in November from 57 in October. Goss said tariffs have had only a modest impact on inflation so far.