Milwaukee-area manufacturers say material costs are up between 10% and 35% while increased lead times continue to be the source of headache, according to the latest montly Marquette-ISM Report on Manufacturing.Despite challenges in the industry, nearly half of respondents surveyed in the report expect market conditions to improve in the next six months.Of the survey respondents, 47% expect positive conditions, up from 40% in February. Those expecting conditions to remain the same dropped from 50% to 33%, February to March. There was an increase in respondents expecting conditions to worsen from 10% to 20%.The Milwaukee-area PMI, the report’s headline number, increased from 61.07 to 66.48 This is the highest reading dating back to February 2018. The previous high was 61.96 in November 2020. A reading above 50 suggests growth in the region’s manufacturing sector while a reading below 50 indicates the sector is contracting.One respondent noted that an increase in orders and delays in parts has created a snowball effect without employees present.Respondents’ comments were focused on increased material costs and surging lead times due to the cold snap in Texas and congested ports. Imported parts are delayed by 4 to 6 weeks, international shipments are 2 to 5 weeks late while inbound logistics delays and shortages of both electronic components and plastic resin continue to challenge manufacturers.“Distributors are saying that they are having trouble keeping stock with lead times, while customers are ready to order,” a respondent said. However, supplier agreements have been helpful in reducing lead times, another respondent said.