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Survey: Midwest, Plains economy strong

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- The economy remains strong in nine Midwest and Plains states, but a monthly survey of business leaders released Monday suggests the growth rate may slow in the months ahead.

The overall index for the region declined to 55.6 in June from 56.2 in May, but any score above 50 suggests growth.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said business leaders expect slower growth in the next few months. Modest job growth is also expected as the hiring index dropped to 53.7 in June from May's 59.3.

"Increasing interest rates and a strengthening U.S. dollar have, and will continue to have, negative but modest impacts for businesses in the region, particularly those tied to agriculture. Even so, the regional job growth will remain positive but sluggish," Goss said.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The overall index for South Dakota improved to 62.9 in June from May's 61.7. The index includes new orders at 74.5, production or sales at 64.8, delivery lead time at 54.9, inventories at 52, and employment at 68.3. "Manufacturers in the state are adding to their employment levels as sales and new orders grow at a solid pace," Goss said.

The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100.