OMAHA — A monthly report on the economy in Iowa and eight other Midwestern states shows the leading economic indicator rose to its highest level since September.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says it signals a good rebound and solid growth for the region over the next three to six months. “The manufacturing economy and the overall economy for the nine-state region, the number was up,” Goss says. “The highest level we’ve seen since September of last year and it’s well up from last month. It was at 55.2 for December, 56.0 for this month. That’s above growth neutral and that’s moving in the right direction.”

Iowa’s leading economic indicator grew as well for January, compared to December. In addition, Goss says employment numbers for the region continue to grow.  “The January jobs index was up very briskly,” Goss says. “It’s the highest jobs number since August of last year, so, looking good there. If you look at overall job growth, for the nine states, 1.3% over the last year, the U.S. is a stronger 1.8%.”

In the survey of business leaders and supply managers across the region, Goss says there’s still some worry and uncertainty. “We asked about the biggest challenges for 2019 and it was tariffs and finding and hiring qualified workers,” Goss says. “That remains a big, big issue.”

In the past 12 months, nondurable goods manufacturers in Iowa have expanded jobs by a very healthy 2.8 percent, Goss says, while Iowa durable goods producers have added jobs at an even stronger pace of 3.9 percent.