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Economic slump likely to continue in Midwest

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A new survey of business leaders suggests the economy will remain sluggish in nine Midwest and Plains states, and hiring will be slow over the next three to six months.

The overall economic index for the region improved to 49.5 in December, but it remained in negative territory below 50. The overall index registered 48 in November and 46.5 in October.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says job growth will continue to be slow in the region, and some manufacturing jobs could be lost.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The December employment index dipped to 48 from November's 50.5.