The word from rural America's bankers is that tariffs are starting to hurt.

September's Rural Mainstreet Index found that nearly 82 percent of the community bank CEOs surveyed reported tariffs are having negative impacts on their local economies.

"Just as last month, tariffs and trade tensions weakened the economic outlook of bank CEOs," said Ernie Goss, economics professor at Creighton University's Heider College of Business in Omaha, Nebraska, which produces the index.

But at the same time, just 42 percent support cutting or eliminating the tariffs. More than 45 percent favor continuing the current tariffs and trade policy, while 12 percent want to see the tariffs hiked.

September's overall index came in at 51.5, marking the eighth consecutive month above the growth-neutral mark of 50.0. The figure is down from August but a whole lot better than a year ago, when the index sank to 39.6, its lowest level of 2017.

Among September's brighter spots, the hiring index came in at 65.3, down slightly from August but still strong.

"The Rural Mainstreet economy is now experiencing positive job growth," the report said. "Over the past 12 months, the Rural Mainstreet economy added jobs at a 2.3 percent pace compared to a lower 1.7 percent for urban areas of the same 10 states."

The home-sales index also dipped from August but remained solid at 54.7.

Still, some of the figures continue to be disheartening. September's farmland and ranchland-price index remained below growth-neutral for the 58th month in a row, slumping to 37.5. The farm equipment-sales index fell to 35.9, which makes 61 straight months below growth-neutral. And retail sales fell below growth-neutral at 48.4.

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