The economic outlook for rural areas of 10 states in the Plains and the West remained negative in April even though it improved slightly from the previous month.
Creighton University's Rural Mainstreet index grew to 46 in April from March's 43.6, but any score below 50 suggests a decline. The indexes range between 0 and 100.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the strong U.S. dollar continues to hurt exports of agriculture and energy products. And demand for farmland remains weak, so land prices are declining.
The farm equipment sales index sits at 15.6, up slightly from March's 15.2, but well below the neutral level of 50.
Bankers from rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.