Iowa’s economy slowed in November as new orders declined sharply, with continued concerns about long-term supply chain disruptions, according to a survey of supply chain managers released this week.

According to Creighton University’s Mid-American Business Conditions Index, the index for Iowa declined to 59.4 in November, down from 67.8 in October.

The index ranges from zero to 100, with a score of greater than 50 indicating an expanding economy over the next three to six months. It is a mathematical average of indices for new orders, production or sales, employment, inventories and delivery lead time.

The index for new orders declined the most in November, dropping to 57.1 from 73.8 the previous month. The index for other categories measured in the survey saw little to no change from the prior month.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa’s seasonally adjusted manufacturing employment was down by fewer than 500 jobs, or 0.2%, compared to its pre-pandemic level. Job gains for the state’s nondurable goods producers, including food processors, were more than offset by losses for the state’s durable goods manufacturers, such as metal producers, the report showed.

For the overall nine-state region included in the survey, the index fell to 60.2, down from 65.2 in October.

Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group, said the survey results indicate that about half of supply chain managers expect disruptions to worsen in the coming months.

“Creighton’s monthly survey results indicate the region is adding manufacturing activity at a positive pace, and that regional growth will remain solid. In terms of supply chain disruptions and bottlenecks, approximately one-half of supply managers expect delays to worsen with only one in four anticipating improvements,” he said.

Supply chain managers cited delays with trucking, air and rail as the greatest factors accounting for supply chain disruptions. A shortage of workers was also cited as a factor contributing to bottlenecks and delays, the report showed.

Despite concerns about continued disruptions the confidence index rose, but still remained weak. The index climbed to 46.2, up from 37 in October, its lowest level since the pandemic began.

According to the report, regional export numbers were positive for the month but delays at ports lowered the import index to  50.1, down from 57.9 in October.

The inventories index fell sharply in November, down to 52, a decline from 64.4 in October, and the wholesale inflation index declined to 92.9 down from 96.5 in October, indicating what Goss said was the “highest and most consistent inflationary pressures in more than a quarter of a century doing the survey.”

“According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, commodity prices are up approximately 22.6% over the last 12 months with fuels expanding by 57.5%, farm products advancing by 18.5%, and metal products soaring by 45.5%,” Goss said.