The Rural Mainstreet Index, which measures the economic outlook in rural America, was hit hard by rural bankers who expressed concerns about trade tensions and their effect on the farm economy.
“An unresolved North American Free Trade Agreement and rising trade tensions with China are significant concerns,” says Ernie Goss, Creighton University economist and author of the Rural Mainstreet Index.
The confidence index is a sub-category of the overall index and expresses the outlook for six months into the future. It dropped from 58 in March to an index of 50 this month. The index range is 0 to 100, with 50 being a growth-neutral reading. The overall index dropped somewhat but did remain above growth-neutral for a third-straight month.
Goss says that indicates an upward trend with improving economic growth. “However, weak farm income continues to weigh on the rural economy,” says Goss. Bankers in the ten-state RMI district have unresolved concerns about trade matters. Over three-quarters of rural bankers (76.2%) say export markets are very important to their local economy.