Though the Midwest economy is showing growth for the 25th straight month according to a survey of supply managers, a Creighton University economist remains cautious in his optimism.

“The manufacturing sector is doing quite well,” said economist Ernie Goss. “The U.S. number came out yesterday. Not as good, but still we’re seeing expansions there, even. Things are cooling a bit. It’s not quite as strong as what we saw mid-year last year.”

The employment section of the survey is at a growth-neutral 50 in December.

“The reason it’s dropped significantly was not because of any layoffs or any other factors, just because companies are finding it very difficult to find and hire qualified workers,” said Goss. “That’s true across the nation, but its more true in this part of the country.”

Trade problems, particularly between the U.S. and China, are forcing supply managers to seek other solutions.

“A supply manager called me and said that he had now, instead of sourcing his supplies from China had moved to India,” said Goss. “He said, now, he’s not going back to China either. In fact, he’s getting the same quality and low prices in India as he was getting in China. That’s the real issue out there. It works on the other end, too. In other words, some of the Chinese suppliers may be, purchasers may be abandoning our companies, as well.”

Approximately 43.2 percent of supply managers expect business profits for their company to improve in 2019.