Economic Trends 
November 2021 | Creighton Institute for Economic Inquiry  

Welcome to Creighton’s November report covering results from Creighton’s two October economic surveys. Creighton’s monthly survey of supply managers and procurement experts in nine Mid-America states indicates economic growth is in a range indicating the regional economy is experiencing healthy growth, but with soaring inflation. The overall index from Creighton’s monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of 10 states climbed a strong reading with farmland prices expanding at a record pace and agriculture equipment sales advancing at a robust pace.  
Creighton University
Jack MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics
Misery Image
From the Desk of Professor Ernie Goss
State Misery Indices (Updated): New York Most Miserable (Again), Utah Least Miserable

In the 1970s, Economist Arthur Okun created the Misery Index to calculate how the average U.S. resident was suffering economically speaking. It was calculated by adding the unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. 

In the accompanying table, a Misery Index is calculated by adding each state’s current Covid-19 deaths per capita to the state’s most recent percentage of job loss since one month prior to the pandemic, February 2020. In the table, lower rankings indicate higher degrees of misery in the state.

  • As in the March 2021 Economic Trends Misery Index, New Yorkers, once again, ranked number one in terms of the highest degree of misery, while Utah residents experienced the lowest level of misery. 
  • In terms of employment, Hawaii experienced the greatest job misery with a loss of 13.0% of non-farm jobs, while Utah suffered the least job misery with a job shortfall of 3.0%. 
  • In terms of Covid-19 death misery, Mississippi suffered the greatest misery with the Covid-19 death rate at 3.4 deaths per 1,000 in population, while Vermont suffered the least Covid-19 death misery at 0.6 deaths per 1,000 population.

Surprisingly, the 25 states with the greatest degree of misery had a higher full vaccination rate of 56.3%, or slightly lower than the full vaccination rate of 57.3% for the 26 least miserable states. 

Estimated correlation coefficients reveal that there is a negative correlation between vaccination rates and Covid-19 death rates (i.e. higher vaccination rates, lower Covid-19 deaths), and that there is a positive correlation between vaccination rates and job losses (i.e. higher vaccination rates, higher job losses).
Number of the Month


Since January 2021, U.S. non-farm worker wages expanded at a healthy compound annual growth rate of 4.47%. However, consumer prices advanced at an even stronger compound annual growth rate of 6.10% producing an inflation adjusted hourly wage loss of 1.63%.
Golden Eggs - Investing
Goss Eggs 
Recent Dumb 
Economic Moves

Biden’s multi-trillion dollar
“Build Back Better Plan” would raise the cap on state and local tax deductions from its current $10,000 to $80,000. This has the impact of assisting the well-to-do since, according to TurboTax, only approximately 10% of U.S. taxpayers (mostly high income) itemized deductions in 2020. Furthermore, high tax states such as New York and New Jersey can shift a portion of their higher taxes onto the lower tax states such as Florida and Texas.
Growth Climbs as Confidence Plunges: Inventory Stockpiling Significant Contributor to Supply Disruptions

October survey highlights:
  • Creighton’s regional Business Conditions Index climbed into a range indicating healthy manufacturing growth, and pointing to overall healthy growth.
  • Over the past 12 months regional manufacturing employment expanded by a strong 3.3% with a gain in average hourly wages of 3.9%. 
  • Approximately one-third of supply managers reported that hoarding, or stockpiling of inventories, has contributed significantly to supply chain bottlenecks.
  • Business confidence remained at its lowest level since the first month of COVID-19, March 2020.

Rural Mainstreet 
Farm Exports Boost Rural Mainstreet Economy:
8 of 10 Bankers Report Farmers in Solid Cash Position

October survey results at a glance:
  • Overall index moved above growth neutral for the 11th straight month indicating healthy growth for the region.
  • Almost one-third of bankers reported congestion at transportation hubs represented the greatest challenge to farmers.
  • More than 8 of 10 bank CEOs reported farmers in their area were in solid cash position.
  • Farmland prices continue to accelerate at a very strong pace.
  • Economic confidence declined for a fourth straight month.
  • Agriculture exports continue to boost commodity prices and farm income in the region.

View the complete Rural Mainstreet Report.
The Outlook

Professor Goss' Forecast - November 2021:

  • Since the presidential elections, the yield on U.S. long-term Treasury bonds has expanded from 0.83% to 1.50%. I expect that yield to climb by another ¼% (25 basis points) by the end of 2021.
  • Mortgage rates, which have expanded only marginally will rise by another 25 basis points by the end of Q1, 2021.
  • Annualized and seasonally adjusted Q1 2022 GDP growth will range between 1% to 2%.

Supermarket News - November 2021:
  • Christmas and Holiday Sales Outlook Strong.
  • “Despite consumer and retailer concerns about pandemic-related supply issues, 2021 U.S. holiday retail sales are expected to vault over last year’s total, potentially growing by double digits. The National Retail Federation (NRF) projects November/December retail sales of $843.4 billion to $859 billion, up 8.5% to 10.5% from 2020 results. NRF said its forecast — excluding automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants and covering Nov. 1 to Dec. 31— tops the previous high of $777.3 billion, up 8.2%, in 2020 as well as the average gain of 4.4% over the past five years. Likewise, business consultancy Deloitte forecasts significantly higher holiday sales for 2021, estimating growth of 7% to 9% to between $1.28 and $1.3 trillion during the November-to-January time span. That’s well over Deloitte’s 1% to 1.5% projection for 2020 and the U.S. Census Bureau’s November 2020-to-January 2021 sales growth measure of 5.8% to $1.19 trillion (seasonally adjusted, excluding autos and fuel).”
Upward Chart
The Good

  • Total non-farm employment climbed by 531,000 in November as the unemployment rate sank to 4.6%, its lowest level since the beginning of pandemic.
  • February’s Purchasing management indices (PMI) for both ISM’s national survey and Creighton’s Mid-America were in a range indicating very healthy manufacturing growth.
  • For the first time in more than one year, the Case-Shiller national home price index cooled to a still strong growth of 19.7% for the 12 months ending in August. 

Wallet Cash Spilling Out
The Bad

  • Surging food costs, energy and rent pushed the U.S. inflation rate, as measured by the September CPI, to 5.4%, its highest level in 13 years. 
  • Third quarter, annualized and seasonally adjusted U.S. gross domestic product slowed to 2%, its slowest pace since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The U.S. trade deficit struck an all time high of $80.9 billion in September as imports rose 0.5% and exports sank by 3.0%.
  • The 2021 U.S. budget deficit hit $2.8 trillion, its second highest on record.  
Keep An Eye On

  • U.S. Inflation Report. On Dec. 10, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases it consumer price index (CPI) for November. We may see a slight slowing in the rate of growth. Very good for Fed. Chair Jerome Powell.
  • U.S. Jobs Report. On Dec. 3, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its job numbers for November. A weak reading may be released as some workers quit due to vaccination mandates.     
  • Retail Sales. On Dec. 15, the U.S. Census Bureau releases its retail sales for November. You should expect a healthy increase from November of 2020 (above 10.0%) with all of that stimulus money sloshing around.
Ernest Goss, Ph.D. 
Email: [email protected]