Manufacturers in the central states enjoyed a 10th month of growth in September, despite ingredient price hikes and slowing employment gains, according to the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions report released Monday.
The report, which captures conditions facing factories in Minnesota and eight other central U.S. states, revealed a business conditions index of 58.2 for September. That's up from a healthy 57.5 in August.
Minnesota's index slid to a still healthy index of 59.4 from the robust 61.8 in August.
Any index above 50 signals expanding economic conditions, so economists were not alarmed. Excepting concerns regarding inflation and employment, the nine-state region did well, report authors said. Overall, September saw increased product orders, production, exports and material delivery speeds even as inventories fell slightly.
Regional results mimicked improvements seen nationally. A separate report, also issued Monday by the Institute for Supply Management, reported a 60.8 index, up 2 percentage points, as U.S. producers enjoyed increases in orders, exports and back orders.
Creighton expects the good news to continue across the Mid-America region.
"The overall index [for] the past several months indicates a healthy regional manufacturing economy and points to solid growth for both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing for the rest of 2017," said Ernie Goss, director of the Creighton Economic Forecasting Group.
Surveyed supply managers were particularly optimistic, Goss said. The six-month business confidence index jumped to 63.6 from 62.5 in August.
Goss noted that Minnesota appears to be well-positioned to deliver solid results for the remainder of the year. The sole concern for the state may be slowing employment gains, which have improved considerably since last year.
"Over the past 12 months, Minnesota increased manufacturing employment by 1 percent, or approximately 3,100 manufacturing jobs," Goss said.