Nebraska’s Leading Economic Indicator rose for the fourth consecutive month in March, suggesting that the state’s economy will continue to grow throughout 2015.
“Consistent improvement in the leading indicator in early 2015 portends consistent growth in the Nebraska economy in the second half of the year,” said economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“However, growth will be solid rather than rapid since segments of the Nebraska economy will be challenged in 2015,” he said. “An elevated value for the U.S. dollar will pressure crop prices and limit economic growth in crop-producing regions of Nebraska.”
Produced by faculty and students in the Economics Department and the Bureau of Business Research in UNL’s College of Business Administration, the indicator is a composite of six factors that predict future economic growth.
The indicator rose by 0.08 percent in March, a slower growth rate than reported for the months of December, January and February.
In addition to the rising dollar and its pressure on exports, Nebraska’s manufacturing sector, which has close ties to agriculture, also will be under pressure, Thompson said. Manufacturing hours, another component of the Leading Economic Indicator, fell in Nebraska during March, while initial unemployment claims rose.
By contrast, three components of the indicator improved during March. Building permits for single-family homes increased, even after adjusting for seasonal factors, while respondents to the March Survey of Nebraska Business predicted solid improvement in sales and strong growth in employment over the next six months. Airline passenger counts also rose slightly.
The full Nebraska Monthly Economic Indicators report and a Technical Report describing the indicators are available at the UNL Bureau of Business Research website, http://www.bbr.unl.edu.