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Economic Index For 9-State Region Hits All-Time High

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A leading indicator for the economy across a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma hit a 30-year high in April.

Creighton University's Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed five points last month to 73.9. Numbers above 50 on the manufacturing survey’s zero to 100 scale indicate economic growth.

"So, this economy’s moving along — constrained, if you can believe that — constrained by supply bottlenecks. Four out of 10 of the supply managers reported that they were experiencing significant bottlenecks and delays in deliveries. So, that’s slowing down the growth," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss.

Nine out of 10 supply managers reported some kind of delay in receiving raw materials, with some indicating February’s record-breaking winter storm spanning the central U.S. was an issue.

Oklahoma’s overall index for April rose almost eight points to 70.9, its highest mark since February 2011 but second-lowest in the region.

There are some concerns despite the record overall index in April. The inflation gauge for wholesale materials also hit an all-time high last month, 96.2. That’s driven by the rising price of everything from metal to lumber.

"Now, that’s a big surprise. The Federal Reserve won’t like those numbers. We’re seeing input prices growing at very strong paces. For example, housing prices year over year, 10% to 12% higher. We’re going to see those numbers continue. The ugly head of inflation is coming up," Goss said.

Hiring also remains a concern, with one in five supply managers saying finding qualified workers is their greatest challenge and employment levels still below what they were pre-COVID.

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