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July Rural Mainstreet Index report shows expanding economy


Iowa’s July Rural Mainstreet Index rose to 54.1 from 51.7 in June, and the state’s farmland price index climbed to 63.1 from June’s 55.6.

Iowa’s new-hiring index for July also expanded to 57.9 from 52.4 in June. Its average adjusted private hourly wages also increased by 0.9% over the past 12 months, while average inflation-adjusted wages slumped by 1.3% during the same time period.

The overall Rural Mainstreet Index reading for the 10-state region slipped to 55.6 in July from June’s 56.9. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with a reading of 50.0 representing growth-neutral. July marked the fourth straight month that the index has expanded above the threshold.

The region’s farmland price index rose to 64.6 from 59.3 in June and 56.3 in May, marking the 34th straight month that the index has advanced above 50.0. Bankers reported that, on average, nonfarm investors secured approximately 17.1% of farmland sales in their area over the past six months, which is almost double the 9.1% reported by bankers in April 2022 when the same question was asked.

The July farm equipment sales index was 50.0, up from 48.3 in June.

The July loan volume index dropped to 75.9 from 79.2 in June. The checking deposit index also fell, to 32.7 from 37.5, and the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments decreased to 71.2 from June’s 76.8. Among bank CEOs who were asked to comment on the Federal Reserve’s current short-term interest rate policy, 92.5% indicated that the Fed should cease raising rates, with only 7.5% indicating that the Fed should continue to raise short-term interest rates.

More than three-fourths of bankers expect that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s policy encouraging bank mergers and acquisition would damage community banks and farmers.

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