The overall Rural Mainstreet Index from Creighton University for February sank to 50.2 from January’s 51.5.

“Growth has definitely come down,” said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss. “There’s slower growth right now, but it’s still positive growth. What we’re seeing right now is quite a bit slower than this time last year. If you look at the rural economy, that’s what we’re talking about here, a survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of ten states, including Kansas, the overall number was still in a growth range.”

Kansas mirrored the overall index, but was stronger than it as a whole at 50.9.

“It was a pretty good number for Kansas,” said Goss. “What we’re seeing in Kansas is urban areas and rural areas, more of a balanced growth in Kansas than what we’re seeing in some of the other states.”

Goss expects the uncertainty that remains with the ongoing trade talks with China to continue to keep growth slow in the short term.

“What’s going to happen, in my judgment, come March 1, we’re not going to have a deal with China,” said Goss. “We’re going to extend the talks and then delay implementing another round of tariff increases. Next week, we were supposed to see an increase in tariffs again on China. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Goss hopes a final deal can be reached later this year.