Bankers forecast rural economy to turn sluggish

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The outlook for the Midwest’s rural economy has declined from the previous month’s forecast with new predictions showing a sluggish attitude for the next six months.

The outlook is based on Creighton University’s Rural Mainstreet Economy survey. The September results show a decrease from 55.8 in August to 52.4 this month. A rating above 50 on the scale of 0 to 100 signifies growth, below 50 reveals a slowdown.

The survey's confidence index fell below 50 to 46.1, implying a decline is expected in the months ahead.

Uncertainty about the farm bill and budget concerns in Congress helped turn the outlook lower and although lower grain prices are good for livestock producers, lower profits for crop growers explain the decline in farm equipment sales.

Farmland prices fell lower, but remain above 50 with a move from 55.8 in August to 54 this month. The ag equipment sales rating decreased by 0.9 this month to 48.3.

Hiring in rural economies remains positive, but also decreased, sliding 6 points lower to 53.2.

The survey included 187 bank executives from rural and non-urban areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

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