Bankers say economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 states

Associated Press
FILE- In this June 27, 2018, file photo a man is silhouetted against moonlight reflecting off the Missouri River as he watches the full moon rise beyond downtown buildings in Kansas City, Mo. A by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV found that half of 15 to 26-year olds think they will eventually be better off than their parents in terms of household finances. About 29 percent expect to do as well as their parents and 20 percent expect to be worse off.

OMAHA — A new survey of bankers in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states suggests the economy remains weak in those areas as the coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the region.

The overall economic index for the region more than doubled to 37.9 in June from May's 12.5, but it remained at a weak level. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy, survey organizers say.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said crop prices remain low, and more than one-third of the bankers survey expect that to be a significant challenge over the next year. Only 3% of bankers reported economic growth in their areas.

The bankers' outlook for the economy remains negative, but the confidence index improved in June to 43.8 from May's 22.1.

"Weak agriculture commodity prices, and layoffs have decimated economic confidence among bankers," Goss said.

 But job growth exceeded layoffs in rural areas as more businesses reopened. The hiring index jumped to 51.5 in June from May's 17.1, but employment remains well below what it was before the coronavirus outbreak began.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.