The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index — a leading economic indicator for a region encompassing Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota — fell in January, but remained above growth neutral for 20th straight month.

The Business Conditions Index, which uses the identical methodology as the national ISM, ranges between 0 and 100, dropped to 56.2 from December's healthy 64.6.

"Creighton's monthly survey results indicate the region is adding manufacturing activity at a positive pace, but with much weaker job numbers for the month. In terms of supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks for the first half of 2022, approximately one-third of supply managers expect delays to worsen with only 12% anticipating improvements," said Ernie Goss, Ph.D., director of Creighton University's Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business.  

The regional employment index plummeted to 43.6, its weakest since June 2020, from 59.3 in December, and the third straight monthly decline.

The wholesale inflation gauge climbed to 87.5 from December's 82.7.

"According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, commodity prices are up approximately 20.2% over the last 12 months with fuels expanding by 37.8%, farm products advancing by 26.7%, and metal products soaring by 32.4%.  

The regional inventory index, reflecting levels of raw materials and supplies, declined to 59.7 from 61.6 in December.  

Despite supply chain bottlenecks, regional export numbers were positive. The new export orders index sank to 56.7 from December's 60.1, while the regional import fell to 50.0 from 61.2 in December.

Other survey components were: new orders slumped to 51.7 from 66.7 in December; the production or sales index sank to 48.3 from 53.8 in December; and the index reading for the speed of deliveries of raw materials and supplies decreased to 77.8 from December's 81.5. A lower reading indicates a reduction in supply chain disruptions and delays.

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