Creighton University’s Rural Mainstreet Index sank below growth neutral for a fourth-straight month in December.
Based on a survey of bank CEOs in a ten-state region, the index rose to 41.7 from November’s 40.4. That’s still lower than October’s 44.4. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 being growth neutral. Creighton
University Economics Professor Ernie Goss says much of the rural economy is still getting pinched by higher interest rates. “Farming in the region is doing reasonably well,” Goss says. “However, agriculture sales abroad for the region are 14 percent lower.” Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve predicted possible rate cuts next year, bankers throughout the region still had somewhat of a pessimistic outlook for their region’s economy. “A little over 50 percent of the ag bankers say their area is in a recession right now or would be in the first half of 2024,” he adds.