A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy remains weak in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but it improved slightly.
The overall economic index for the region grew to 47.8 in December from 44.7 in November, but any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy in the months ahead.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says low commodity prices and concerns about trade continue to weigh on the economy in rural areas.
Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
— Associated Press