Manufacturers across Minnesota and the Midwest posted strong growth for July, but slipped a tad from an exceedingly robust June, according to a key economic report issued Friday.
July results from Creighton University's Mid America Business Conditions Index revealed solid demand for energy products, farm goods and exports from a nine-state region. They also showed continued but slowing growth in Minnesota, a state that posted strong employment and an uptick in sales of durable, metal and food products for the month.
Minnesota posted the best results in the study's nine-state region. Some economists were not surprised and noted that many of Minnesota's large manufacturers posted solid sales or earnings results in July, including Polaris, Ecolab, 3M, Select Comfort and Graco.
Ernie Goss, the report's author and director of Creighton's Economic Forecasting Group, noted that Minnesota's durable goods manufacturers and food processors "supported a healthy reading for the month." He added that the state had "solid job growth" but said wage growth proved "an anemic 1.2 percent, which is well below the rate of inflation."
For the entire nine-state region, the Business Conditions Index was 57.0 in July, down from June's healthy 60.6. Any number above 50 signals economic expansion, while any index below 50 signals economic shrinkage.
The index includes Minnesota, which posted an index of 66.4, down from June's regional high of 70.1. The Creighton report tracks manufacturer's progress for Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
According to a separate report issued Friday by the Institute for Supply Management, U.S. manufacturers reported a national index of 57.1, which was up from June's index of 55.3.
Producers across the country noted improvements in new orders, production and employment.
Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers said July's index is the "highest level since November. After declining sharply in January, sentiment has gradually moved higher each month, with the sector rebounding from winter-related disruptions and slow growth in the first quarter of this year. These findings are largely consistent with other indicators showing manufacturers cautiously optimistic about the next six months."
Other economists agreed and noted that U.S. manufacturers are seeing uncommon gains.
"Over the last 25 years, the ISM index has been at 57.1 or higher only 13 percent of the time. New orders, production, supplier deliveries, and employment were all very positive for growth in July. The ISM report reinforces that the industrial sector is growing at a fast pace," said Daniel Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI).