Kansas economic index on the rise

The March Business Conditions Index for the Mid-America region climbed for a fourth straight month, pointing to a growing economy in the months ahead, according to the March Business Conditions survey of supply managers and business leaders in the nine-state region.

The index advanced to 64.3, its highest level since May 2006 and up from last month's 61.0. An index of 50 is considered growth neutral for the leading economic indicator.

"The region's manufacturing and value-added services sectors are experiencing very strong business activity," said Ernie Goss, director of Creighton's Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics. "I expect this increase in activity to extend over to the rest of the regional economy in the months ahead."

The leading economic indicator for Kansas from a survey of supply managers advanced for a fifth consecutive month. The March Business Conditions Index climbed to 54.1 from February's 50.8. Components of the overall index for March were new orders at 58.4, production, or sales, at 51.9, delivery lead time at 65.1, employment at 42.4, and inventories at 53.3.

"Based on our survey of supply managers in Kansas over the past several months, I expect job gains for the second quarter of 2010. However, the increases will be very modest with unemployment rates remaining above 6 percent for the rest of 2010 as discouraged workers re-enter the work force," said Goss.

Goss said that he expects the region to record overall job growth for the first quarter, but new hirings will be muted as firms remain cautious.