The U.S. and rural economies remain strong but a slowdown is beginning to unfold. Inflation is falling, U.S. consumers continue to spend, and the labor market is still strong. And despite a commercial banking scare, the Federal Reserve is holding to its monetary tightening course. However, signs of a wavering economy are spreading, albeit slowly.
This transition from a red hot economy to one that is more tepid can be felt across rural sectors. Natural gas prices have plummeted, impacting the fertilizer, biofuel, and power sectors. Recent surges in protein and dairy prices are now meeting a more price-sensitive consumer. And the race to build out fiber broadband is slowing to a crawl.
The effects of higher-for-longer interest rates will become more pervasive, and the economic deceleration more pronounced as the year progresses.