Survey: Missouri economy improved in December, should gain jobs in early 2015

Missouri’s economy picked up in December and is expected to see more job growth in the next six months, a new survey shows.

The Business Conditions Index for Missouri, compiled by economists at Creighton University, climbed to 55.7 in December from 54.9 a month earlier and 50.1 a year ago. An index above 50 indicates an expanding economy.

Ernie Goss, the director of Creighton’s Economic Forecasting Group, said he forecasts a stronger labor market in 2015.

“For 2014, Missouri’s leading industry was transportation equipment manufacturing, while its lagging industry was telecommunications,” Goss said. “Based on our survey results, I expect Missouri to add jobs at a solid pace for the first half of the year with pullbacks in exports restraining growth to a still healthy rate.”

The institution’s Mid-America Business Conditions Index for December, a leading economic indicator for a nine-state region that includes Missouri, also advanced to 54.4 in December from 51.3 a month earlier and 53.2 in December 2013.

Goss said improvements in the regional job market are, however, offset by declining prices in the agricultural and energy sectors. While the 26 percent drop in grain prices and 13 percent cut in fuel have helped companies that serve consumers, the falling prices impacted businesses closely tied to agriculture and energy products.

The Creighton Economic Forecasting Group has surveyed supply managers in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

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