Manufacturing in nine Midwest states saw the eighth straight month of growth in July, although at a slower pace than in June.
Creighton University on Thursday released its latest Mid-America Business Conditions index, which fell to 56.1 in July from June's 62.3. For Minnesota, the index fell from June's 68 to 63.2.
Any figure above 50 indicates growth, so economists were not put off by the monthly change and noted that June's increase was unusually large.
"The overall index over the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy, and points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the second half of 2017," said Ernie Goss, the report's author and director of Creighton's Economic Forecasting Group.
The region — which includes Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Oklahoma — saw a downturn in imports and exports during the month. Goss noted that a weaker U.S. dollar made imports more expensive and that Japan's decision to raise the tariff on frozen beef imports was expected to hurt producers in Kansas and Nebraska.
In Minnesota, overall results were "very healthy" and particularly strong for medical equipment, computer, electronic and other technology-linked manufacturers. Their "expanded growth for the month more than offset slight weakness among metal producers in Minnesota," Goss said.
Surveyed Minnesota manufacturers noted that production, sales and employment remained very strong during the month.
In separate earnings reports released in the last week, Minnesota-based manufacturers such as 3M, Ecolab, Graco and Polaris all reported a better sales environment and expectations that the second half of 2017 could be better than the first half.
Minnesota factories appear to be performing better than those in the surrounding region or nation.
A national report from the Institute for Supply Management — also released Tuesday — found that conditions for U.S. manufacturers dipped slightly in July. Still, 15 of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth.
The ISM index fell to 56.3 in July from 57.8 in June.
ISM officials said producers saw a slower pace with regard to new orders, production, employment and supplier deliveries. Suppliers reported that they are starting to see raw material prices rise. They also saw a tiny rise in inventory levels for the month.
Fifteen industries grew last month, led by plastics and electrical equipment. Three industries — apparel, textiles and petroleum/coal products — lost ground.