Manufacturing indicators across the Midwest slumped to their lowest level in three years, according to the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index November report.
The index is considered a leading economic indicator for the nine-state region from Minnesota to Arkansas.
“Slow global growth and trade skirmishes and wars are negatively affecting growth among manufacturers in the region. For 2019, manufacturing in Mid-America lost jobs at a pace of minus 0.1% compared to a positive job growth of 0.04% for U.S. manufacturing,” Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business, said in a statement.
November's index slumped slumped to 48.6 from October’s 52.6. Any index below 50 indicates economic contraction, causing concern for those in the industry.
The low number of available workers also dragged conditions down. The November Employment Index dropped to its lowest level in four years.
"Despite the negative impact of the trade war on jobs, 60% of supply managers in our survey support continuing, or even expanding, trade restrictions and tariffs on imports from China,” Goss said.
Despite the challenges, confidence in future economic conditions rose in the month.
“I expect business confidence to depend heavily on trade talks with China, and the passage of the nation’s trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, or USMCA," Goss said. "Quick passage of USMCA is very important for the regional economy and business confidence.”
In addition to Arkansas and Minnesota, the index measures manufacturing conditions in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.