MN Economy Improves, Slight Regional Decline

Although the Mid-America region's economy experienced a slight setback between February and March, Minnesota's economy showed signs of a slight improvement during that period.

Minnesota's economy showed signs of improvement from February to March despite a slight setback in the nine-state Mid-America region as a whole, according to data compiled from a survey of supply managers.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index-a report that's compiled monthly by a group at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska-found that Minnesota's index rose to 67.9 from February's 59.8.

The index ranges from zero to 100, and an index greater than 50 indicates that supply managers expect economic expansion over the next three to six months.

The new orders portion of Minnesota's March index was 80.2, production or sales was 72.3, and delivery lead time was 66.5. The weakest component was employment at 58.7.

In terms of employment, the report indicated that Minnesota has recovered approximately 12 percent of the 140,000 jobs that were lost over the past year.

“Our surveys over the past several months indicate that by the end of the first quarter of 2012, Minnesota's employment level is projected to be approximately 70,000 jobs below its pre-recession level,” Ernie Goss, a Creighton University economics professor, said in a statement.

The nine-state region saw a slight decline in its index in March, decreasing to 61.4 from 63.2 in February. However, March marked the 16th consecutive month that the index has been above growth-neutral for the region.

This month, the survey asked supply managers how they expect the Japanese tragedy to affect their purchases of supplies and inputs.

About two-thirds of respondents expected little or no impact on the price of purchases, while only 4 percent anticipated price increases of more than 10 percent resulting from the earthquake and tsunami.

In terms of deliveries, about 15.6 percent expect significant delays in obtaining supplies, while 55.8 percent anticipate little or no impact on delivery speed stemming from the Japanese disasters. The remaining supply managers anticipate minor delays.