Survey shows growth in rural economy in November

Published 5:41 pm Friday, November 19, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. — The economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states remains on the rise, but confidence in the economy’s future continues to drop, according to a new monthly survey of bankers in region released Thursday.

The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index rose in November to 67.7 from October’s 66.1. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.

“Solid grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates and growing exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey. “USDA data show that 2021 year-to-date agriculture exports are more than 23.2% above that for the same period in 2020. This has been an important factor supporting the Rural Mainstreet economy.”

But the survey’s confidence index, which reflects bank CEO expectations for the economy six months out, sank for the fifth straight month to 48.4 in November. That’s the lowest level since August of last year and down from October’s 51.8.

While the six-month outlook continued to wane, survey respondents were optimistic about about about this year’s holiday shopping season. On average, bankers expect holiday and Christmas sales in their area to expand by 5.7% from the same period last year.

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