Strong Economic Growth Continues In Rural Parts Of 10 States

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Strong economic growth continues in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, according to a new monthly survey of bankers in the region.

The overall economic index for the region improved in October to 66.1 from September's already-strong 62.5 reading. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the region is benefitting from solid grain prices, continued low interest rates and growing agricultural exports. USDA figures show that agricultural exports are up more than 25% so far this year.

Farmland prices in the area continue growing even though the price index for cropland slipped in October to 81.5 from September’s record high of 85.2.

Demand for workers remains high but businesses are having a hard time finding people to hire, Goss said. The hiring index increased in October to a very strong level of 71.4 from September's 67.9.

But bankers were less optimistic about the economy. The confidence index dropped to 51.8 in October from September's much stronger 65.4 reading.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.