The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index slipped in March but remained above growth neutral for a second-straight month. Those results come from the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agricultural.
It’s the first time since the middle of 2015 that the index has shown two straight months of readings above growth neutral. The index dipped slightly from 54.8 in February to 54.7 in March. The index range is zero through 100, with 50 representing growth neutral.
Ernie Goss oversees the index and says, “Surveys over the past several months indicate that the rural economy is trending upward with improving, but slow economic growth.” However, he says weak commodity prices continue to weigh on the overall rural economy.
Jim Eckert, President of the Anchor State Bank in Illinois, says recent commodity price increases have helped the mood of their area farmers. He did say the state will need good spring rains for the crop to get off to a solid start.
On the downside, bankers in the survey project that 16.8 percent of grain farmers will experience negative cash flow in 2018.