Omaha, NE – The Rural Mainstreet Index improved in March to its highest level in nearly two years.
The RMI measures the overall health of the rural economy in nine states, including Nebraska and Iowa. In March, the index rose to 47.4, an 11 point jump from February. Creighton University Economist Ernie Goss says while that's an improvement, the economy is still struggling.
Goss says a drop in farm income and a loss of manufacturing jobs hurt the rural economy in 2009. He expects the alternative energy sector to add jobs this year. The USDA projects that farm income will improve in 2010 as well.
While the RMI improved in March, it remains below growth-neutral.