An economic index for 10 Midwest and Western states has dropped again, and an economist says the drought is ``dampening economic activity across the region.'' The Rural Mainstreet Index dropped further into negative territory this month, hitting 47.1, compared with 47.9 in July and 56.7 in June. The index is compiled after a survey of rural bankers in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It focuses on communities with 1,300 residents, on average. Survey organizers say any score below 50 on the index, which ranges from 1 to 100, suggests economic contraction in the months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the drought ``is dampening economic activity across the region'' and that companies with farm ties are experiencing problems.
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