Mo. Rural Mainstreet index climbs to regional high

February’s overall index rose once again for the fourth time in the last five months, showing its highest reading since January 2020. Missouri’s Rural Mainstreet Index this month increases to a regional high 66.2 from January’s 63.6. Kansas also increased to 55.9 from 53.6 in January.

Missouri and Kansas showed growth in Creighton University’s February Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI).

The Show-Me state rose to 66.2 from January’s 63.6, a regional high. The Kansas RMI for February increased to 55.9 from 53.6 in January.

February was also the fourth time over the last five months that the index climbed above growth neutral.

The overall RMI across the 10-state region increased to 53.8 from January’s 52.0. The range is between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the index increased to its highest level since January 2020.    

“Sharp gains in grain prices, federal farm support, and the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy,” Ernie Goss, PhD, chair of Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business, said.

“Only 8 percent of bank CEOs indicated economic conditions worsened from the previous month. Even so, current rural economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels,” Goss said.

Over the past 12 months, Kansas’ Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 3.9 percent of its nonfarm employment compared to a 4.2 percent loss for urban areas of the state.     

In Missouri over the past 12 months, the state’s Rural Mainstreet economy has experienced an increase in the size of its nonfarm employment by 1.9 percent, compared to a 3.6 percent loss for urban areas of the state.