OMAHA, Neb. – Economy in rural areas of 10 plains and western states remains on the rise, but confidence in the future of the economy continues to decline, new monthly survey of area bankers released Thursday.
Rural Mainstreet’s overall economic index rose in November to 67.7 from 66.1 in October. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy.
“Strong grain prices, record Federal Reserve interest rates and growing exports have supported the main rural economy,” said Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University, who is overseeing the survey. âUSDA data shows that agricultural exports from 2021 to date are more than 23.2% higher than the same period in 2020. This has been an important factor in supporting the main rural economy.
But the survey’s confidence index, which reflects bank CEOs’ expectations for the economy over six months, fell for the fifth consecutive month to 48.4 in November. This is the lowest level since August last year and down from October 51.8.
As the six-month outlook continued to weaken, survey respondents were optimistic about this year’s holiday shopping season. On average, bankers expect holiday and Christmas sales in their area to increase 5.7% from the same period last year.
Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were interviewed.