Rural Mainstreet Shows Modest Economic Gains

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for August increased slightly compared to July.

The overall index for August increased slightly to 44.7 from July’s 44.1, which is still below the growth neutral mark of 50 on the zero to 100 scale. In April, the overall index was at a record low 12.1.

The August farm equipment-sales index fell to 32.8 from 34.4 in July.

State responses to COVID-19 have varied, which has influenced local and state economies. In South Dakota, for example, which implemented fewer restrictions, one banker reported that the “western part of the state has seen a significant boost to the economy due to tourism from shut-down states.”

This month, bankers estimated that farm loan defaults would rise by 5.3 percent over the next 12- month period. This is up slightly from the 5 percent recorded last month, and from 4.8 percent registered a year ago.

The confidence index, which reflects bank CEO expectations for the economy six months out, improved to 44.6 from July’s 43.9.