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Mixed bag for Midwest economy in most recent report

The most recent Mid-America Manufacturing Index gave economists pause in the month of March.

From jobs to a possible recession, some business owners are voicing concerns.

The report is sponsored by Creighton University and offers a window into what business owners are feeling as winter moves into the rearview mirror.

Economist Ernie Goss leads the study. He said it’s not all roses heading into spring.

“Overall, when you look at the big picture moving forward, we’re talking about manufacturing moving sideways to a bit down, even though the number yesterday for the US was slightly above growth neutral – but nothing to cheer about," Goss said. "We’re seeing some not such good numbers in manufacturing across the nation and in the region.”

Goss said over two-thirds of the region’s managers predict a recession in the calendar year.

“A lot of it has to do with the jobs we’re getting, and that’s not so much in manufacturing but in non-manufacturing part time jobs," Goss said. "The interest rates we’re currently seeing which are above neutral, I’d call it, and that’s currently slowing the overall economy.”

All of these factors are feeding into the overall job market.

“I think we’re going to see the unemployment rate rise to 4% or above – of course South Dakota is about half of that – and that’s something we shall be watching," Goss said. "Also, inflationary pressures are continuing to rise a bit, or they’re holding up. Investors are saying ‘well, we’re going to see three rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year.’ We may not see it right now, there’s too much inflationary pressure out there.”

Looking forward, Goss said to expect the economy to continue growing, but slower than what was seen at the end of 2023.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture