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Missouri economy expanding as manufacturing sector adds jobs, increases wages

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(The Center Square) – Missouri is in an expansionary economy, according to a survey conducted by economists in the Midwest.

Missouri’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for May was 51.2, an increase of 1.7 points from April, according to Creighton University’s monthly Mid-America Business Conditions Survey. A score greater than 50 indicates a growing economy while ratings below 50 predict a sluggish economy.

It was the fourth straight month the overall Midwest index climbed above a neutral growth rating for the nine-state region that stretches from Minnesota to Arkansas. The national index for manufacturing was 46.9, a decline of .2 points from April.

The survey reviews data on new orders, production, supplier delivery times, production delays, backlogs, inventories, prices, employment, import orders and exports. Components of Missouri’s overall index from supply managers showed new orders at 53, production or sales at 51.2, delivery lead time at 41.1, inventories at 58.5 and employment at 52.2.

The survey also found supply managers reported average price growth of 5.6% over the past 12 months and they expect average price growth of 2.9% over the next 12 months.

“After flashing recession warning signals between November 2022 and January 2023, Creighton’s monthly survey of manufacturing supply managers over the past several months is now pointing to positive but slow growth with somewhat lower inflationary pressures at the wholesale level,” Ernie Goss, economics professor and director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group, said in a statement announcing the May survey. “While it’s too early to tell if the Federal Reserve is achieving its ‘soft landing,’ results from Creighton’s surveys over the last several months are somewhat promising on the growth and inflation fronts.”

Missouri’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate was unchanged in May at 2.5%, according to a Missouri Economic Research and Information Center report. The estimated number of unemployed in the state was 78,891 in May, an increase of 965 from April.

Missouri’s manufacturing employment expanded by 4.3% over the last 12 months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reported the manufacturing hourly wage in the state increased by 6.8% in the same period. Nationally, manufacturing employment grew by 2.5% over the last 12 months and average hourly wages increased 5.7%.

“Employment growth and levels remain solid due to manufacturers’ labor hoarding,” Goss said. “That is, manufacturers in the region are maintaining employment levels due to a fear of an inability to hire back once business activity levels pick up.”

Total payroll employment increased by 55,600 jobs during the last year, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center. Manufacturing added 10,000 jobs during the period, but trailed job growth in leisure and hospitality (14,000) and professional and business services (13,000).

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