Business Leaders Say Area’s Economy Improving with Reopening

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OMAHA, Neb. — Business leaders say the economy has begun to recover as businesses reopened in the past month in nine Midwest and Plains states, but it remains weaker than before the coronavirus outbreak began, according to a monthly survey released Wednesday.

The overall index for the region jumped into positive territory at 50.3 in June from May’s 43.5. 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 50 suggests decline. 

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the region’s overall index will have to remain above 50 for many months before the economy reaches the level it was at before states began imposing restrictions because of the coronavirus.

The confidence index improved to 65.3 in June from May’s 56.6 showing that business leaders expect the economy to continue improving over the next six months.

The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Job losses continue in the region. The employment index declined to 38.9 in June from May’s 40. 

Businesses were paying higher wholesale prices over the past month. The wholesale price index increased to 59.7 in June from May’s 48.6.

Arkansas’ overall index rose to 50.9 from May’s 43.7. Components of the June index were: new orders at 58.7, production or sales at 55.2, delivery lead time at 47.4, inventories at 54.4, and employment at 38.8.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, Arkansas has lost 88,000 jobs, or almost 7% of its employment. Our surveys point to a flattening of employment with only slight job gains in the months ahead,” Goss said.

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