OMAHA, Nebraska — The economy will likely grow more slowly this fall in nine Midwestern and Plains states, according to a monthly survey of business leaders released Wednesday.
The region's overall economic index dropped nearly three points in September, to 54.3, from 57.2 the previous month.
"A 30 percent decline in grain prices over the past year has produced a pullback in economic activity for regional businesses linked to agriculture," said Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey.
The survey results from supply managers are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth, while a score below that suggests decline.
The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Survey respondents remain fairly optimistic, with the confidence index declining slightly, from 60.4 in August to 59.6 in September.
The delivery lead time index, which hit a three-year high of 60.6 in August, remained high in September, at 59. Goss said 41 percent of businesses reported having difficulty getting supplies and raw materials delivered on time.
"As a result of rapidly expanding shipments of oil in the region, supply managers are having increasing difficulty in obtaining timely delivery of raw materials and supplies," Goss said.
The employment index climbed into positive territory, from 48.7 in August to 53.5 in September, suggesting modest job growth ahead.
The prices-paid index, which tracks the cost of raw materials and supplies, declined, from 66.7 in August to 60.1 in September.
The other components of the overall September index were:
— The inventory index decreased to 52 in September, from August's 57.9.
— The export order index also declined to 53.2, from August's 59.8.
— The import index increased slightly in September to 52.8, from 51.8.
— New orders fell to 52.9 last month, from August's 58.1.
— Production or sales decreased to 54.3 in September, from 60.7.
Creighton University economic reports: http://business.creighton.edu/economicoutlook