The Rural Mainstreet Index shows continued weakness according to the latest report by Creighton University. Last week, organizers said the index rose slightly in March but continue to show a contracting rural economy. The index for March was announced at 40.2, compared to last month’s 37.0. A number below 50 suggests contraction.
Organizers say recent declines are the result of lower agriculture and energy commodity prices and downturns in manufacturing. The farmland and ranchland-price index for March tumbled to 20.2 from February’s 29.8. This is the 28th straight month the index has moved below growth neutral. The March farm equipment-sales index sank to a record low of 6.7 from February’s 11.3. The report points to weakness in farm income that continues to pressure the sale of agriculture equipment across the Midwest region.