OMAHA — Economic growth is expected to slow over the next three to six months in nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a report released Thursday from a July survey of business supply managers.

The Mid-America Business Conditions index dropped to 52.0 in July, from 55.4 in June, the report said. It’s the lowest figure in more than three years.

“The regional economy expanded at a slower pace than the rest of the nation for the first half of 2019,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.

“Weak farm income, produced partially by tariffs and flooding, pulled regional growth below that of the nation. Even so, based on our manufacturing survey over the past several months, I expect overall growth to remain on a positive but slower path,” he said.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The regional trade numbers were down again. The index for new export orders sank to 44.7, from June’s 48.3, and the import index slumped to 43.8 in July, from 50.0 in June.

More than half of the supply managers who responded indicated that tariffs were making it more difficult to buy internationally. The figure was unchanged, however, from when the same question was asked in January.

Economic optimism, as captured by the business confidence index, plunged to 51.4 in July, from June’s 59.1. The July figure was the lowest confidence reading since October 2016.

“I expect business confidence to depend heavily on trade talks with China and the Federal Reserve’s interest rate actions in the weeks and months ahead,” Goss said.

Here are the state-by-state results for July:

Iowa: The state’s overall index rose to 52.6, compared with 50.4 in June. Index components for July were new orders at 52.6, production or sales at 52.2, delivery lead time at 54.1, employment at 56.6 and inventories at 47.2. Recent surveys indicate that manufacturers were experiencing gains in economic activity. Federal data shows Iowa workers have experienced a 3.1% increase in hourly wages over the past 12 months, slightly below the national gain of 3.1% over the same period, he said.

Nebraska: After falling below growth neutral in May, Nebraska’s overall index remained above the growth neutral threshold of 50.0 for a second straight month. However, it dropped to 52.9 in July from 55.9 in June. Index components were new orders at 53.4, production or sales at 52.0, delivery lead time at 54.3, inventories at 47.9 and employment at 56.8. “Recent surveys indicate that durable-goods producers, including machinery manufacturers, experienced declines in economic activity. On the other hand, nondurable-goods producers, including food manufactures, are experiencing solid gains in economic activity,” Goss said. Federal data shows that workers have experienced a 3.1% increase in hourly wages over the past 12 months, slightly below the national gain of 3.2%, he said.

Arkansas: Arkansas’ overall index plummeted to 51.0 last month from June’s 60.1. Index components were new orders at 48.7, production or sales at 52.4, delivery lead time at 54.0, inventories at 46.7 and employment at 53.2. Recent surveys indicate that manufacturers in the state were experiencing solid gains in economic activity. “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that workers in the state have experienced a strong 5.2% gain in hourly wages over the past 12 months, well above the national gain of 3.2%,” Goss said.

Kansas: Kansas’ overall index plunged to 52.1 in July from June’s regional high of 62.9. Index components were new orders at 54.7, production or sales at 51.7, delivery lead time at 51.7, employment at 57.2 and inventories at 45.2. Recent surveys show gains in manufacturers’ economic activity. Federal data shows that workers have experienced a 5.4% gain in hourly wages over the past 12 months, well above the national gain of 3.2%, Goss said.

Minnesota: The state’s overall index fell in July to 51.7 from 53.4 in June. Index components were new orders at 50.0, production or sales at 52.6, delivery lead time at 53.8, inventories at 46.2 and employment at 55.9. Recent surveys indicate that durable-goods manufacturers were experiencing slow to no gains in economic activity. Nondurable-goods producers experienced slightly negative economic conditions in recent months. Federal data shows that Minnesota workers have experienced a 3.6% increase in hourly wages over the past 12 months.

Missouri: Missouri’s overall index slumped to 51.9 last month from June’s 59.9. Index components were new orders at 51.8, production or sales at 51.4, delivery lead time at 48.8, inventories at 50.0 and employment at 57.5. Recent surveys show that manufacturers were experiencing solid gains in economic activity. Federal statistics show that workers have experienced a weak 2.7% gain in hourly wages over the past 12 months, well below the national gain of 3.2%, Goss said.

North Dakota: The state’s overall index rose slightly. It hit 55.4 in July, compared with 55.0 in June. Index components were new orders at 54.0, production or sales at 55.6, delivery lead time at 58.5, employment at 57.0 and inventories at 52.0. “Recent surveys indicate that durable-goods producers, including machinery manufacturers, are experiencing solid gains in business activity. On the other hand, nondurable-goods producers, including food manufacturers, are experiencing slight declines in economic activity,” he said. Federal statistics show North Dakota workers have experienced a solid 4.6% increase in hourly wages over the past 12 months.

Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s overall index dropped to 52.8 last month from June’s 54.9. Index components were new orders at 53.2, production or sales at 52.1, delivery lead time at 54.3, inventories at 47.7 and employment at 56.8. Recent surveys indicated that manufacturers experienced business pullbacks in economic activity, Goss said. Federal data shows that workers have experienced a strong 4.5% increase in hourly wages over the past 12 months.

South Dakota: The state’s overall index fell to 52.5 last month from June’s 54.1. Index components were new orders at 52.6, production or sales at 52.3, delivery lead time at 47.2, inventories at 47.2 and employment at 56.6. Recent surveys indicate that manufacturers were experiencing solid gains in economic activity. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that workers have experienced a weak 2.5% gain in hourly wages over the past 12 months, well below the national gain of 3.2%, he said.

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