Creighton Univ. chart compares current month to last month and a year ago; click here to download it and Table 2 (below)
More than six in 10 rural bankers surveyed for the latest Rural Mainstreet Index say they expect a recession because of the coronavirus pandemic, marking the largest one-month decline in the confidence index since the survey began in January 2006, and its lowest point since October 2016. About 32 percent of bankers surveyed said they expect little economic impact from the virus.

The index, compiled by Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, is a monthly survey of bankers "in approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300" in 10 states where agriculture and energy are critical to the economy: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The overall index for March fell from 51.6 for February to 35.5 in March. Anything below 50 is "growth negative." This marks the first month below neutral after six months straight above 50, Goss reports. The only three measures on the index above 50 were loan volume, checking deposits, and home sales (see Table 1, above).

The survey says it is "an early snapshot of the economy of rural, agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation." This edition is more like time-lapse photography, because the situation changed rapidly in March. "Over the last two weeks, the coronavirus has resulted in almost one-half, or 47.6%, of bankers surveyed reporting a decline in client or customer visits," Goss writes. Also, 14.3% of banks reported an increase in staff absences due to the virus.
Creighton University chart; click here to download it and Table 1.