State, regional economic indexes on the rise

The Business Conditions Index for the mid-America region climbed for the fifth consecutive month, pointing to a growing economy in the months ahead, according to the April survey of supply managers and business leaders in a nine-state region.

The index, a leading economic indicator, slipped to a very healthy 61.7 from March's 64.3. An index of 50 is considered growth neutral.

This marks the fifth straight month that the index has risen above growth neutral, signaling an expanding regional economy in the months ahead.

"While the financial turmoil in Europe is a clear risk to the recovery, manufacturing and value-added services sectors in the Mid-America region are experiencing very strong business activity," said Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economics professor.

"This leading economic activity will continue to push overall economic growth for the nine-state region higher through the third quarter of 2010."

The region added 25,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2010, Goss said. He expects job growth to be somewhat stronger in the second quarter.

Specifically, the Kansas index rose for the sixth straight month, to 62.1 from March's 54.1 and February's 50.8.

The state lost more than 4,000 jobs in the first quarter, Goss said, and unemployment should rise slightly in the second quarter despite more than 5,000 job gains.