It’s a new month, which means a new snapshot of the Midwest economy from professor Ernie Goss and the Creighton Economic Forecasting Group. Things continue to look solid if not spectacular.
In Missouri, Creighton continues to see growth in manufacturing, and indicators ranging from sales to delivery lead time indicate growth ahead.
More broadly, the business conditions index for nine Midwestern states remains at its highest in six and a half years. Employment is up, worries about inflation are down, and Goss says the Federal Reserve might leave interest rates unchanged for the rest of the year.
“There may not be a rate hike,” Goss said in a video released with the monthly report. Creighton surveys purchasing managers at manufacturing companies to develop a gauge of expected economic activity in the months ahead.
One word of caution: Japan buys a lot of American beef but just raised the tariff on beef substantially. That will hurt parts of the Midwest, Goss says.
The overall sunny outlook lines up with the latest regional review by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which noted steady increases in consumer spending, reflecting a national trend. Manufacturing investment is on the upswing. People are working more hours, and wages are up “modestly,” the KC Fed says. Once again, some sectors are having trouble finding workers.
One hitch noted by the KC Fed (and others): Housing sales are being hurt by a low inventory of homes on the market.
The flip side of that comes from the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City, which reports that permits to build single-family homes rose 11 percent in the first half of 2017 across eight metro counties. That’s on top of 2016, which was by far the best year so far this decade.
Those figures are far more impressive for Eastern Jackson County – up 25.4 percent so far this year. Blue Springs is off slightly (though still in the top 10 metrowide), Grain Valley is even with the 2016 pace, but Independence is up 96 percent. It issued 51 permits in the first six months of the year, compared with 26 in the first half of 2016.
Comcast says its new Xfinity Mobile service is available at its Independence store. The company first offered the service, available for personal devices, in May. Now it’s starting to offer it through its more than 300 stores across the country. The Independence store is at 18701 E. 39th St., Suite B, near Independence Center. … Here’s something to think about as the state of Missouri considers whether to proceed with plans for a major expansion of the state’s bike trails system. The Outdoor Industry Association says six in 10 Missourians participate in outdoor recreation each year, and it says those rods and reels, backpacks and bikes add up. That $4.6 billion in spending accounts directly for 133,000 jobs and $889 million in state and local taxes, the group says.
-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at 816-350-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter @FoxEJC.