May 20, 2019, 4:07 p.m.
In May, rural economies, including Nebraska’s, took a step backward, according to the Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI). November 2018 is the last time the index showed negative growth.
The index is a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas across a 10-state region in the northern Midwest. Nebraska’s May RMI dropped to 45.9 from April’s 47.9. Ernie Goss, Creighton economic professor and RMI creator, said he believes spring flooding and U.S. trade negotiations have hurt Nebraska’s economy.
“Well as far as the impacts, they’ve not been as significant as one might expect," Goss said. "Moving forward, we asked the bankers to project farm loan defaults, for example, and it was double the rate we calculated or they estimated two years ago. We’re going to probably see more and more loan defaults and of course that spills over into the broader economy.”
Goss also said low commodity prices, combined with low ag sales have not been great for Nebraska’s economy. He projects there will be an increase in larger farms purchasing smaller farms within the next year.