For the fourth straight month, the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a leading economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Minnesota to Arkansas, advanced above growth neutral and to its highest level since May 2018.

The September Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, increased to 65.1 from August’s 60.0.

The regional employment index moved well above growth neutral for September to its highest level since June 2019, climbing to 61.8 from 54.8 in August.

Prior to COVID-19, the regional insured unemployment rate for the region stood at 1.3%.

It had reached a high of 11% in May, and fell to 4.6% in September.

Looking ahead six months, economic optimism, as captured by the September Business Confidence Index, dipped to 69.4 from 73.3 in August.

The Kansas Business Conditions Index for September increased to 69.9 from 63.0 in August.

States included in the survey are Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.