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A survey of bankers in Illinois and other Midwest states shows the rural economy remains weak, but includes signs of improvement.
The Rural Mainstreet Survey from Creighton University showed slight improvements in rural economies in September. The overall index remained negative at 46.9 in September, but that was improved from August’s 44.7. Professor of Economics Ernie Goss says many factors go into the index.
“How is the overall economy, we ask about loans, we ask about the agricultural sector and how that sector is doing,” said Goss. “We ask other questions, for example, housing sales and retail sales.”
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In Illinois, the RMI advanced to 43.6 from 42.9 in August. Compared to the same time last year, Illinois’ Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 8.1% of its nonfarm employment representing 390,000 jobs. The overall index remained negative at 46.9 in September, but that was improved from August’s 44.7. In March, the index hit a low of 35.5. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy, while a score above 50 suggests a growing economy.
Goss said rural economies are rebounding ever so slightly.
“Crawling out of that deep hole we dug back in April because of course the COVID-19, and we are seeing things such as housing sales being pretty strong and hiring is looking much better, said Goss.
Bankers from Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Minnesota, Colorado, North and South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.