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Bankers report expanding local economies in Goss March Rural Mainstreet Index report


The March Rural Mainstreet Index for Iowa rose to 71.6, from 54 in February, and Iowa’s farmland-price index rose to 72.4 from 60. The new-hiring index for March also advanced, to 72.7 from 53. Compared with pre-COVID-19 levels, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ non-seasonally adjusted data indicates that Iowa’s rural Main Street economy lost 25,800 nonfarm jobs, or 3.9% of its nonfarm employment.

Nationally, the Creighton University Goss Rural Mainstreet Index increased to its highest level since launching in January 2006. The overall index for March grew to a record high of 71.9, from 53.8 in February. The index ranges between 0 and 100, with a reading of 50 representing growth-neutral.

Approximately 68.8% of bank CEOs reported that their local economy was expanding, while the remaining 31.2% indicated little or no growth, according to the March report. The farmland price index advanced to 71.9, its highest level since November 2012, and up from 60 in February. This is the first time since 2013 that Creighton’s survey has recorded six straight months of farmland prices above growth-neutral. Approximately 12.3% of farmland sales were cash sales, which is down from 17.3% recorded in February 2020.

The March farm equipment-sales index rose to 63.5, up from 62.7 in February. The March loan volume index increased to 60.9 from February’s 46.1; the checking-deposit index dropped from February’s record high of 88.5 to 84.4, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments increased to 46.9, from 46.2 in February.

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