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The Midwest’s Top Talent Is Looking For Greener Pastures

Midwest

If you have a set of specific set of skills, look no further than the Midwest for your next job. With lower unemployment and higher job-opening rates that the rest of the country, the Midwest now finds itself in a situation in which it significantly lacks skilled workers.

Although the economy in nine Midwestern and Plaints states continued to expand last month, according to The Mid-America Business Conditions Index by Creighton University, it’s done so with a shortage of skilled workers, which also means it might not be sustainable.

“The regional economy continues to expand at a healthy pace. However, as in recent months, shortages of skilled workers remain an impediment to even stronger growth. Furthermore, supply managers are reporting mounting negative impacts from tariffs and trade skirmishes,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, with results ranged in an index from zero to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth.

It’s an unusual “crisis” not seen in other regions of the United States, and it’s easy to shrug off as inconsequential, but it’s more serious that it appears.

Employers in these states are practically begging for newly trained workers, particularly in rural areas that have seen young, skilled employees flee for new lives in the big city.  

A survey report says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 54.1 in November from 54.9 in October, while the September reading was 57.5. While it managed to stay above growth neutral 50 for 24 straight months, the index still dropped to the lowest reading since December 2016.

As for employment, in November, the index climbed to 57.5 from 52.2 in October. Related: Russia Will "Respond Appropriately" If U.S. Ditches Nuclear Deal

"Overall manufacturing employment growth in the region over the past 12 months has been very healthy, at 2.5 percent compared with the national average of 2.3 percent," Goss said, expecting this gap to close in the months ahead as regional job growth slows faster than national manufacturing job growth.

Among the nine Midwest states, Missouri is on the top in terms of the rate of growth by durable goods producers in the state, boosting jobs by 8,200 for a 5.2-percent gain over the past 12 months, followed by Nebraska which saw 2,300 new jobs for the same percentage gain.  

Arkansas is in last place among the nine states in terms of the rate of growth, with jobs up 800 for a 1.1 percent gain for the same period.

South Dakota ranked highest for the rate of growth for nondurable goods manufacturers, adding 600 workers for a 3.8-percent gain over the past 12 months, followed by Nebraska where nondurable goods manufacturers adding 2,000 workers for a 3.7-percent gain.

In last place on the growth scale is Oklahoma with nondurable goods manufacturers shedding 2,200 workers for a 5.5-percent loss.

Related: Cautious Optimism As South Africa Snaps Out Of Recession

The survey also shows a slight rise of regional new export orders to 51.8 from 51.5 in October, while the import index climbed to 54.3 from 48.7 in October. Approximately 65 supply managers found that rising tariffs had made it more difficult or expensive to purchase from abroad, which is up from 40.8 percent in September.

“Despite higher tariffs on imported goods, healthy regional growth boosted imports for the month,” said Goss.

But economic optimism still remains: The survey shows that almost one-third of supply managers expect business profits to improve in 2019. If they could just get skilled workers to fill those growing positions …

By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com

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