A new survey of bankers suggests that the economy will grow at a healthy pace in rural parts of 10 Midwest and Western states in the months ahead.
The monthly survey's overall index rose to 56.1 in December from November's more moderate 54.3. But any score above 50 suggests growth.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the region continues to benefit from the strength of agriculture and energy businesses. But declining crop prices and the lack of a farm bill are concerning.
The index is based on surveys of rural bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
It ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. A score above 50 suggests growth in that factor in the months ahead.