September survey gives another sign economic slowdown ahead for 9 states in Midwest, Plains

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OMAHA, Nebraska — A second straight monthly survey of nine Midwest and Plains states shows signs that the regional economy is slowing down, according to a report issued Thursday.

The overall Mid-American Business Conditions Index dropped to 47.7 last month, compared with 49.6 in August, the report said.

"The strong U.S. dollar and global economic weakness are having a negative impact on manufacturers and businesses linked to manufacturing in the region," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. He also said weak crop prices and energy prices have harmed the regional economy.

Economic optimism for the next six months, as reflected by September business confidence index, fell to 47.7 from 52.4 in July.

The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The regional employment gauge plunged last month to 42.6 from 52.0 in August.

"Industries and areas dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing cuts. For example, metal producers and agricultural equipment manufacturers continue to report job losses," Goss said.

The new export orders index also dropped, hitting 42.4 in September, compared with 50.0 in August. The import index for September increased to 48.9 from August's 47.9.

"The strong U.S. dollar, making U.S. goods less competitively priced abroad, and a weaker global economy hammered new export orders for the month," Goss said. "On the other hand, weaker regional growth and lower oil prices again pushed the import index below growth neutral for the month."

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