Weak growth forecast for summer in Nebraska

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Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013 12:00 am

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers predict weak growth this summer for Nebraska’s economy, with the state’s Leading Economic Indicator falling slightly in March.

The forecast has been up and down in recent months but still positive overall, said economist Eric Thompson.

“This uneven pattern of growth in the leading indicator is consistent with weak but positive economic growth in the Nebraska economy over the next six months,” Thompson said.

Only one of the index’s six components improved in March: Business owners who responded to UNL’s survey said “they expect solid improvements in sales and employment in their business over the next six months,” according to Thompson’s report.

However, manufacturing hours fell, a pattern seen throughout the northern Plains in March, Thompson said. Airline passenger counts declined, as did the number of building permits issued for single-family homes. Unemployment claims rose, and so did the value of the dollar, which limits future export activity. All told, the index fell 0.39 percent in March.

The university’s measure of the current size of the state economy continued to grow in March, with rising wages and employment, and expanding electricity sales. However, agricultural commodities prices fell and reports of declining business conditions kept the growth to just a scant 0.06 percent.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1336, barbara.soderlin@owh.com

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