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Survey of 9-State Region Shows Manufacturing Growth Picked up in August


The manufacturing industry in a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma is in good shape, according to a monthly survey.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index for August was at 60 on a 0 to 100 scale where 50 is growth neutral, higher numbers indicate growth and lower numbers show contraction. It was at 57.4 in July.

There are some factors holding back the manufacturing sector, like a supply bottleneck.

"So, delivery speeds are slowing down. That's a very difficult issue right there for the companies out there, getting adequate supplies of raw materials ... and for that reason, our inventory index for the month of August was 41.7. And that's, of course, well below growth neutral," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

Goss said the lack of a coronavirus vaccine is also a problem, but not the only other one.

"We need qualified workers. That's not expected. Most policymakers out there and economists think that we have excess employees, but not for those qualified workers in this part of the country in manufacturing," Goss said.

While 60% of those responding to the monthly survey said they’ve returned to pre-COVID levels of hiring, 80% said finding qualified workers is an ongoing challenge.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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