News Column

Minn., Midwest Economic Outlooks Improving

April 1, 2013

John Welbes, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

Minnesota's economic outlook improved in March as a survey of supply managers showed increased optimism about portions of the state's manufacturing sector.

The Minnesota Business Conditions Index, compiled by Creighton University's Economic Forecasting Group, rose to 55.2 in March, up from 52.0 in February. An index number greater than 50 indicates an expanding economy over the next three to six months.

Components of Minnesota's index number included new orders at 55.7, production or sales at 58.6 and employment at 53.5.

"Both durable and nondurable goods manufacturers detailed expanding business activity," said Ernie Goss, director of the Forecasting Group at Creighton, in Omaha, Neb. "Growth continues to be especially healthy for metal producers and machinery manufacturers."

The index is part of a nine-state survey called the Mid-America Business Conditions Index. The overall finding for the region climbed to 58.2 from 53.1 in February. That marked the largest one-month jump in the index since January 2012.

The other states in the index are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The strongest new orders index reading in two years "was the prime factor boosting the overall index higher," Goss said. Several consecutive months of such readings would be needed to indicate that the regional economy is picking up steam, he added.

Source: (c)2013 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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