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Local & Regional

Growth Continues in Nine-State Mid-America Region


Economic growth continued in September for a 10th straight month in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.2 last month, up from 57.5 in August and 56.1 in July.

"You see it's been trending upward for about 10 months into 12 months. We're seeing it growing. That's a real good number, and I expect that to continue, as manufacturing in the region is doing well," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

Oklahoma is seeing stronger than average activity, with its index climbing 6.5 points to 62.7. Oklahoma has added 3,600 manufacturing jobs since this time last year, pacing the region.

"We're seeing manufacturing expanding, even durable. Non-durable goods manufacturing, the outlook is pretty positive, but with rising inflationary pressures," Goss said.

Goss said the highest inflation gauge since 2011 may be a precursor to a federal interest rate hike, but most businesses don’t think that will hurt them.

And hurricanes in Texas and Florida aren’t having the impacts on the regional economy experts initially expected. Goss said instead of Harvey and Irma leading to higher gas prices, they’ll put the squeeze on housing markets.

"We're going to be rebuilding in Houston, rebuilding in south Florida. We're going to be rebuilding in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and that's going to take building supplies down there," Goss said. "And that's just going to push prices up even more, and fewer home sales."

The nine-state region the Mid-American survey covers includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.