Creighton University’s October Rural Mainstreet Index for Iowa rose to 49.6 from September’s 48.7. 

Readings above 50 suggest growth. Creighton each month surveys bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and energy.      

Iowa’s farmland-price index fell to 39.7 from September’s 47.4. The new-hiring index dropped to 52.1 from 55.5 in October. 

In the past 12 months, rural areas in Iowa have seen job growth of 0.3%, compared with 1% in urban areas.

The regional index rose to 51.4 from 50.1 in September. This marks the third time in the past four months that the overall index has risen above growth-neutral.

That’s the highest reading since June, but still weak, Creighton economist Ernie Goss noted.

“Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Even so, almost three of four bank CEOs, or 73%, reported continuing negative impacts from the trade war,” Goss said. 

Almost three of four bankers reported issues caused by the trade war. And about 43% supported Federal Reserve rate hikes over the next 12 months.