Rural Bankers Say Local Economies are Stronger

For the seventh month in a row, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index stayed above growth neutral. The overall index is still strong at 70, falling almost nine points from May’s record high of 78.8. The index ranges from zero to 100, with 50 being growth neutral. That comes from a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and energy. Approximately 46 percent of bank CEOs report their local economy expanded between May and June. “Strong grain prices, the Fed’s record-low interest rates, and growing exports have underpinned the rural main street economy,” says Ernie Goss of Creighton University, who oversees the index. He did say that several bankers raised future concerns. Steve Simon, CEO of the South Story Bank in Iowa, says, “Continued dry conditions will start to have an effect on markets and crops soon” For the ninth straight month, the farmland price index advanced significantly above growth neutral. The June farmland index slipped lower but is still strong at 75.9. The June Farm Equipment Sales Index rose to 71.6, the highest level since 2012.

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