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Workforce issues slowing Midwest, Kansas growth, says economist

The latest edition of the Mid-America Business Conditions Index was solid, but the clouds on the horizon have to do with workforce concerns among supply managers, according to a Creighton University economist.

“They were concerned about labor shortages, being able to find and hire qualified workers,” said economist Ernie Goss. “That pulled the overall index down, but still above growth neutral for the region and still above growth neutral for Kansas.”

The Midwest still is growing more slowly than the rest of the country.

“Quarter one, last week we knew the economy expanded nationally at 3.2%,” said Goss. “Based upon the employment numbers we’re seeing, the region’s drawing at almost half of that. It’s definitely the agricultural slowdown.”

This leaves farmers with no money to hire and manufacturers with no bodies to hire.

“Most grain farmers are now below break even in terms of prices,” said Goss. “We’re seeing the manufacturers having difficulty, with unemployment rates very low. For this part of the nation, you don’t see a lot of inmigration. That’s movement of people that don’t have jobs in Michigan moving to Kansas to get those jobs.”

The Kansas employment reading was well below growth neutral at 43.9 in April.


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