Nebraska’s leading economic indicator rises 0.5% in September

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Nebraska’s leading economic indicator rises 0.5% in September

Slow economic growth expected in first quarter of 2024
Sparks fly as a worker in protective gear uses a grinder on metal.

Nebraska’s leading economic indicator rose in September, according to the most recent report from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The indicator, designed to predict economic activity six months into the future, increased 0.5%.

“The modest increase in the leading indicator suggests that there will be slow economic growth in Nebraska during the first quarter of 2024,” said economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research, department chair and K.H. Nelson College Professor of Economics.

The six components of Nebraska’s leading economic indicator are business expectations, building permits for single-family homes, airline passenger counts, initial claims for unemployment insurance, the value of the U.S. dollar and manufacturing hours worked. Two components improved during September.

Nebraska Bureau of Business Research Leading Economic Indicator – October 2023
Video: Eric Thompson discusses September leading economic indicator report

Manufacturing hours worked expanded. The Nebraska manufacturing sector is focused on food processing and producing equipment for agriculture, so it has benefited from high food prices and a strong farm economy, Thompson said.

“Given strength in the state’s key industries, Nebraska businesses remain confident about their prospects,” he said.

Respondents to the September Survey of Nebraska Business reported plans to increase sales and employment over the next six months.

Housing activity was a weak spot in the state economy. There was a decline in building permits for single-family homes in September.

“High and rising interest rates continue to challenge the state’s homebuilding industry,” Thompson said.

Read the full report and a technical report describing the indicators.

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