Midwest Report: Business confidence in economy plummets

Published 6:03 pm Friday, October 1, 2021

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OMAHA, Neb.  — Business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states have seen their confidence in the economy plummet in recent weeks, according to a monthly survey released Friday that reflected leaders’ lowest rate of confidence since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

The overall index for September of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions dropped to 61.6 from August’s 68.9. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession.

But the survey’s business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, fell more than 16 points from August’s 53.5 to to 37 — the lowest level since March 2020.

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Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, ticked off other concerns revealed in the latest survey, including that nearly 1 in 3 supply managers said finding and hiring qualified workers will be their greatest challenge over the next year. Survey respondents also noted continued pressure from supply chains bottlenecks and high inflation, which will affect the upcoming holiday shopping season.

“Almost 3 of 4, or 73.3%, of supply managers expect holiday and Christmas shoppers to face significantly higher prices and empty shelves this season,” Goss said. “The message from supply managers is to order early.”

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