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Rural Mainstreet Economic Index Drops Below Growth Neutral for 10th Consecutive Month

The rural economy in the Midwest is facing significant challenges as high interest rates, weak farm commodity prices, and sluggish equipment sales continue to impact the region. According to the latest Rural Mainstreet Index, tracked by Creighton University, the economic outlook for rural communities in 10 states, including Nebraska, remains below growth neutral for the 10th consecutive month.

The index, based on a survey of bank chief executives in rural areas, provides a real-time analysis of the agricultural and energy-dependent parts of the nation. In June, the overall index dropped to 41.7, indicating a lack of growth in these communities. Nebraska, in particular, saw a decline in its overall index to 39.5, with concerns about new hires and economic growth persisting.

Despite some positive indicators such as an increase in farmland prices and a rise in agriculture exports, rural bankers remain pessimistic about the future economic outlook. Farm equipment sales have been consistently below growth neutral, and delinquency rates for loans have remained steady.

On a brighter note, home sales unexpectedly expanded in June, while retail sales continued to decline due to high consumer debt, elevated interest rates, and weaker farm income. The challenges facing the rural economy highlight the need for targeted support and strategies to boost growth and stability in these communities.

As the region grapples with these economic challenges, it is essential for policymakers and stakeholders to work together to address the underlying issues and support the long-term prosperity of rural America.


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