For the third time in the past four months, a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region pushed the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index above growth neutral.
The overall index for January rose to 52.0 from December’s 51.6, the second highest level since January 2020.
Creighton economist Ernie Goss says recent sharp improvements in agriculture commodity prices, federal farm support payments, and Federal Reserve’s record low short-term interest rates have underpinned rural economies in a solid and positive growth range, but still below pre-pandemic levels.
Nebraska’s RMI for January expanded to 55.6, up nearly a point and a half, despite declines in both the farmland price and new-hiring indices.
Goss says only 4% of bankers indicated rising loan defaults and bankruptcies represented their greatest concern for 2021, down significantly from the 32% a year ago.