Mid-America economy in slow, jobless recovery: survey

CHICAGO Mon Aug 3, 2009 10:28am EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Business conditions in nine U.S. Midwest and South-Central states in July pointed to economic growth for the first time in nearly a year, according to survey results released on Monday.

Creighton University's Business Conditions Index rose to 51.7 in July from 49.3 in June. A reading of 50 is considered neutral with readings above that pointing to expansion over the next three to six months. The last time the index topped 50 was in August 2008.

"Readings over the past several months indicate that the regional economy is on the mend," said Creighton University Economics Professor Ernie Goss in a statement. "I expect the nine-state region to record positive growth, but with little or no job additions for the rest of 2009."

The survey's employment index remained weak at 43.0 in July, up slightly from 41.4 in June, as most employers surveyed in the region said they expected more layoffs this year.

Meanwhile, the prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, signaled heightened inflationary pressures, spiking to 61.5 in July from 52.5 in June.

Supply managers were surveyed in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based Creighton Economic Forecasting Group has conducted the monthly survey since 1994, using the same methodology as the national Institute for Supply Management.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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