Last year proved to be a strong one for manufacturing in Ninth District states, and 2014 appears likely to start on good footing, according to the Mid-America Business Conditions Index, tallied monthly by the business school at Creighton University.
December readings, released Jan. 2, show Minnesota and the Dakotas in optimistic territory overall, enjoying the entire year in expansion mode (see Chart 1; an index reading over 50 denotes expansion, and under 50 contraction). However, unlike the first half of the year, when district states were more optimistic than their national counterparts, it appears that manufacturers elsewhere are gaining somewhat more momentum, while district states have seen more volatility, particularly in the Dakotas.
Employment sentiment was mixed for district states. Manufacturers were in expansion mode for jobs throughout 2013, but index scores trended lower in the last few months (see Chart 2). North Dakota has seen wild swings in employment sentiment, but the data suggest considerable seasonality, with regular spikes in the spring and fall, followed by slowing.