For a second straight month, the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions Index, a leading economic indicator for the nine-state region stretching from Minnesota to Arkansas, fell, but remained above growth neutral for the month.

In April of last year, COVID-19 pushed the overall index to its lowest level in 11 years.

Since April, the overall index has climbed above growth neutral 50.0 for seven of the past eight months.

The Business Conditions Index, which ranges between 0 and 100, dropped to 64.1in December from November’s 69.0.

The regional employment index remained well above growth neutral for December, but fell to 57.7 from 63.1 in November.

In December, supply managers were asked to identify the greatest 2021 economic challenge for their firm.

Approximately 36% reported that finding and hiring qualified workers would be their top challenge for 2021.

The Kansas Business Conditions Index for December decreased to 55.3 from 60.1 in November.

The top performing industry in the state for 2020 was construction.