Nebraska’s leading economic indicator rises sharply

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Nebraska’s leading economic indicator rises sharply

State sees increases in manufacturing hours worked, building permits for homes
A stack of boards stands in front of the wood frames of three houses on a sunny day.

Nebraska’s leading economic indicator saw a sharp increase in February, 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 by a rapid 3.48%.

“The increase in the leading indicator suggests there will be strong growth in the Nebraska economy during the summer 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. Five of the components improved during February, including three that improved significantly.

Nebraska Bureau of Business Research Leading Economic Indicator – March 2024
Video: Eric Thompson discusses the February leading economic indicator report

Manufacturing hours worked rose rapidly, and business expectations were positive.

“Nebraska manufacturing continues to benefit from strong demand for food products, as well as recent general improvements in the national manufacturing industry,” Thompson said. “In addition, Nebraska businesses reported plans to increase both sales and employment over the next six months.”

There also were signs of strength in the Nebraska home-building industry during February, despite high interest rates.

“There was a sharp increase in building permits for single-family homes in Nebraska, even after adjusting for seasonal factors,” Thompson said. “As is happening nationwide, a limited supply of existing homes on the market is supporting demand for new housing in Nebraska.”

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

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