Gallup's job creation index reading was plus 36 in April, one point off the record high of plus 37 in March. The Midwest led the regions at plus 42 -- the first time any region has topped plus 40 in the nine-year history of the index. Workers in the Midwest became increasingly likely to say their companies were hiring rather than firing in April, even as workers elsewhere reported more stagnant job creation patterns. In the other three U.S. regions, the East, South and West, the job creation index dropped one point each from March. The gap between the lowest region for job creation in the country -- the East (plus 28), and the highest, the Midwest (plus 42) -- is now 14 points. The East has scored below the other regions since November 2016, and the gap between it and the other regions has expanded in recent months.
The reason the Midwest is doing so well may have to do with robust hiring in the manufacturing sector. Recent earnings reports from companies suggest improving business conditions in the region. Makers of nondurable goods such as processed foods in the Midwest report recent increases in hiring, and a regional economist expects continued improvement for months. It is, however, difficult to be conclusive about why the Midwest is currently leading, or the East is lagging behind.
Despite slipping one point from last month to plus 36, the Gallup job creation index is nearly at a record high. The index has been steadily climbing for years and is off to a strong start in 2017. In 2016, the index ranged between plus 29 and plus 33, so the first four months of this year are already an improvement.