Bankers Survey Say Economy Remains Weak in Rural Areas

The economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, according to a monthly survey of bankers released last week.

The overall index for the region remained negative at 44.1 in July even though it improved from June’s 37.9. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy, organizers say.

The bankers remain wary about the economy over the next six months. The survey’s confidence index was up slightly in July at 43.9 from June’s 43.8 but still negative.

“Weak agriculture commodity prices, retail sales, and layoffs have diminished economic confidence among bankers,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed. Nearly 18% of them said economic conditions had worsened in their areas over the past month.

Farmland prices continue to decline. The July farmland index declined to 45.6 from June’s 46.8.

The farm equipment sales index remained weak at 34.4 in July even though it was slightly better than June’s frail 32.8.

The borrowing index suggested more farmers are seeking loans. The index registered 57.4 in July, which was down from June’s 63.6.

– Associated Press

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