Creighton University’s Mainstreet Economy index continues to find weakness across the Great Plains. Bankers surveyed by university economists say they expect a drop in holiday sales. It’s hard to find good news in the report. Farm income declines continue to “weigh on the rural, agriculturally dependent economy with few signals that the economic downturn is coming to an end,” said Creighton University Ernie Goss.
Hiring is “frail,” according to the report. Over the last 12 months, rural areas in the 11 state Great Plains region lost five percent of their jobs. Farm equipment sales have declined. Bank CEOs expect holiday retail sales to shrink 1.5 percent from last year — and last year’s sales weren’t so good. Brian Nicklason, president of Woodland Bank in Remer, Minn., said, “I have talked to several local retailers and hospitality businesses, and they are very concerned about business prospects over the upcoming winter months.”
The Mainstreet Economy index relies on reports from bankers in about 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300.