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Monthly survey shows slower regional growth

Jun 22, 2012 - Staff

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Economic growth has continued to slow in rural areas of Wyoming and nine other western and midwestern states because of the problems in Europe and elsewhere.

The overall index on the monthly survey of bankers, released Tuesday, declined to 56.7 in June, from May's 58.5. That's the lowest level for the index in 2012, but any score above 50 still suggests growth in the months ahead.

"International economic problems are affecting us here," said Dale Bradley, CEO of Citizens State Bank in Miltonvale, Kan.

The survey covers rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the results suggest that areas dependent on agriculture and energy will generally continue growing, but at a slower rate.

Goss said the global economic slowdown, combined with a stronger U.S. dollar, have pushed agriculture and energy prices lower and hurt exports.

The farmland price index remained at a strong level of 60 in June, but that was down from 64.6 in May. The farm-equipment sales index also declined to 54.7 in June, from last month's 65.1.

The loan volume index jumped to 64.2 in June, from May's 56.9, as farmers sought more loans.

"As farmland prices and farm-equipment sales have risen, so have farmers' financing demands," Goss said.

The checking deposit index sank to 55.3 in June, from May's 62.9. The index for savings instruments dipped to 38.9 in June, from May's 41.7.

The hiring index remained at strong at 59.1 in June, which was slightly below May's 59.2. Goss said job growth varies widely across the region.

The bankers seem to remain confident about the economy over the next six months because the confidence index registered 58.5 in June. That's down from May's 60.2, but still well above the neutral score of 50.

The June home sales index climbed to 66.4, from May's 65.2. The retail sales index slipped to 54.6 in June, from 54.7 in May.

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