The Federal Reserve Board of Chicago is out with its Midwest manufacturing index for February, and the numbers are something of a milestone.
The comeback in steel is good for places like Gary, Indiana/photo by Micki Maynard
The Chicago Fed uses 2007 as a baseline, meaning 100 on its index, which the Fed calls “a composite of 15 manufacturing industries that uses hours worked data to measure monthly changes in regional activity.” (We like to think of 100 as basically full staff.)
In February, the manufacturing index, which covers Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, stood at 91.7. The number for automobile manufacturing was even better — 92.2 — while steel manufacturing stands a tad behind, at 90.5 percent.
But that’s an important number, as we’ll explain.
Since the index goes up about a half a percentage point to a point per month, you might extrapolate that the region will be back to 100 by the end of the year. Of course, there’s no way to really nail that, given high gas prices and other economic factors.
But the real story is in the historic numbers. Continue reading
Whether you think the recession is over or not, it’s been hard on many people in the Midwest and the country. So, our Changing Gears team went out to find some people whose circumstances have forced them make some tough choices that are, perhaps, working out for the better. Here are three stories of the Plan B.
Podcast: Play in new window
Can the middle class be saved? That’s the provocative title of a recent piece in The Atlantic Monthly, which takes an in-depth look at the challenges posed by the nation’s economic woes.
Writes its author, Don Peck:
“It’s hard to miss just how unevenly the Great Recession has affected different classes of people in different places.” Continue reading
All kinds of ideas are being floated to jump start the economy — jobs programs, tax credits, incentives for big companies to invest. But small businesses also play a big part in the Midwest economy.
Leduc Blueberries in Paw Paw, MI.
What kind of support would help small businesses be successful? Are more incubators the answer? Have you been helped by one?
We’d love to hear your stories and thoughts about surviving as a small business. Take our survey, and share your advice for other companies in getting through the recession.