OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A monthly survey of bankers suggests the rural economy in 11 Midwest and Plains states improved slightly over the past month but remains weak.

The Rural Mainstreet Index grew to 36.5 in September from August's 32 and July's 32.6. That overall index remains well below the growth-neutral score of 50, but it is much higher than the index's record low of 16.9 set in February.

The index ranges from 0 to 100. A score below 50 suggests the economy will contract in the next three to six months, while a score above 50 indicates the economy will expand.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says concerns about farm income and the relatively low crop prices this year appear to be limiting growth in rural areas.

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On the Net:

Creighton University economic surveys: http://www2.creighton.edu/business/economicoutlook

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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