The economic news in the Midwest is as good as it has been for quite some time and yet it’s not as good as it could be.

“Somewhat higher grain prices are spilling over into the rural economy,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss. “That’s also spilling over into the non-agricultural portion of the rural economy. That’s a good reading. The jobs are up, not as strong as we’d like to see.”

The reason jobs aren’t up more is there aren’t people to take them, at least in Kansas.

“We asked, for example, about the holiday or Christmas buying season,” said Goss. “Overall, the average increase expected by the bankers is 1.3% from last year. That is just not good enough. That is below inflation.”

The growth we are seeing, tepid though it is, could slow even further without positive trade news, according to Goss.

“They haven’t passed the USMCA, that’s the new NAFTA and that needs to be done right away,” said Goss. “Likewise, the trade war with China is continuing and these tariffs are going to be stepping up in December, unless we see some deals soon. That could be a real negative at the end of the year for the regional economy and for the U.S. economy.”

The Rural Mainstreet Index is at 54.2, up from 51.4 in October. Fifty is growth neutral.