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What is the Mid-America Business Conditions Index?

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Packages of filled orders roll off a conveyer belt at Digi-Key.
Packages of filled orders roll off a conveyer belt at Digi-Key toward a shipment bay at the company's Thief River Falls headquarters.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

The Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index is a regional version of the national Purchasing Manager Index the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) publishes monthly. 

Both come out on the first business day of the month and are focused on the manufacturing sector. The ISM publishes a similar survey of purchasing managers in the services sector.

Both are based on surveys of purchasing managers, about 300 in the case of the national PMI. In Minnesota, Creighton economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the index, said approximately 80 purchasing managers contributed to the November 2018 survey.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis routinely cites the Creighton survey, though not by name, in the bank's contribution to the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, a summary of economic conditions compiled from "anecdotal information."

Federal research found the PMI closely parallels growth in Gross Domestic Product. "It can explain about 60 percent of the annual variation in GDP, with a margin of error that averaged p .48 percent during the last ten years," the ISM's website said.

The Creighton survey targets executives in nine states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. They are queried about new orders, production, inventories, employment, and delivery lead time.

The survey responses are crunched into an index ranging between 0 and 100. An index above 50 indicates expansion over the next three to six months, while an index below 50 points to contraction over that time frame.