US Services Sector Grows for Seventh Month, Trade Association Says

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Economic activity in the services sector grew in December for the seventh month in a row, the Institute for Supply Management said in a Thursday (Jan. 7) press release. The trade association surveys the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in its Services ISM Report On Business.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for services “registered 57.2 percent, 1.3 percentage points higher than the November reading of 55.9 percent,” said Anthony Nieves, chair of the Institute for Supply Management’s Services Business Survey Committee. He added that this index has “has expanded for all but two of the last 131 months.”

The index is based monthly surveys from over 400 U.S. companies which provide a leading indication of what is happening in the private sector’s services sector.

“Respondents’ comments are mixed about business conditions and the economy,” he said. “Various local- and state-level COVID-19 shutdowns continue to negatively impact companies and industries.”

And, obviously, the U.S. economy was hard hit by the resulting pandemic crisis earlier in 2020.

“Most respondents are cautiously optimistic about business conditions, with the recent approval and impending distribution of vaccines,” said Nieves, commenting on the institute’s survey.

However, the institute said, four industries reported contraction in December: arts, entertainment and recreation; accommodation and food services; real estate, rental and leasing; and the “other services” area.

The 14 services industries reporting growth in December included management of companies and support services; the wholesale trade; the retail trade; health care and social assistance; transportation and warehousing; finance and insurance; utilities; agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; information; professional; scientific and technical services; mining; public administration; construction and educational services.

The Institute of Supply Management reported in November that the U.S. manufacturing sector continued a rebound, with the October showing underpinned in part by consumer demand, which in turn translated into continued production of consumer goods.

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