A monthly index produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests the state's economy will continue to grow at least into the fourth quarter.

The most recent leading economic indicator report, a composite of economic factors that predict economic growth six months into the future, rose by 0.67 percent in April.

“The leading indicator has risen every month during 2018, suggesting that the Nebraska economy will continue to grow through the fourth quarter of the year,” economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at UNL, said in a news release.

Three components contributed to the growth in the leading indicator.

There was an increase in airline passenger counts during April, after adjusting for seasonal factors. Businesses also reported plans to increase employment and sales over the next six months, in responses to the April Survey of Nebraska Business. Finally, initial claims for unemployment insurance dropped in April, suggesting continued strength in the Nebraska labor market.

There were, however, pockets of weakness in the state's economy, including a decline in residential building permits and manufacturing hours. The value of the U.S. dollar also rose during April, the third consecutive monthly increase.

“An increase in the value of the dollar raises competitive pressure on exporting businesses, especially in agriculture and manufacturing,” Thompson said.

The leading economic indicator report is produced monthly by faculty and students in the Bureau of Business Research. The full report is available at bbr.unl.edu.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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