The good: Agricultural commodity prices are high, including hogs and cattle-- a major boost for rural economies.

The bad: Off the farm, growth is slowing, economists say. Raw material costs for manufacturers remain high. Retail sales are expected to flatten as consumer confidence dives.

The ugly: National unemployment remains stubbornly high at 9.1 percent. It's 10.7 percent in Michigan, 9.2 percent in Illinois and 6.7 percent in Minnesota. Meanwhile, home prices are huddled in the basement. Nationally, the median single-family-home price slid 2.8 percent in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In the NAR's 12-state Midwest region, it dropped 5.4 percent.