Since falling to a record low in April of this year, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index has increased for six straight months, and is now at its highest level since January, prior to the onset of the virus pandemic.
According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the index rose above growth neutral to 53.2 for October, up more than six points from September.
Nebraska’s index rose more than five points to 58.6 on the back of a still-strong hiring index, South Dakota increased to 59.6 and Wyoming’s index rose back above growth neutral to 52.6 for the first time since April. Meanwhile, Colorado’s index remained below growth-neutral despite an increase of more than six points to 44.7
Creighton Economist Ernie Goss says recent improvements in agriculture commodity prices, federal farm support, and the Federal Reserve’s record low interest rates have underpinned rural economies, but more than a third of bank CEOs surveyed say their local economies are experiencing recessionary conditions.