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Economy in Brief

U.S. ISM Services Index Edges Higher in September
by Tom Moeller  October 5, 2021

• Services sector activity remains below July high.

• Business activity index leads September increase.

• Price reading improves.

The ISM Index of Services Activity rose to 61.9 in September from 61.7 in August. The figure remained below the all-time high of 64.1 in July. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a decline to 60.0 in September. Haver Analytics constructs a composite index combining the services index and the manufacturing reading, released on Friday. The composite index rose to 61.8 in September from 61.5 in August.

The services business activity reading rose to 62.3 in September from 60.1 in August. It remained below the record high of 69.4 in March. Elsewhere, the component series were little changed. The new orders index rose to 63.5 in September from 63.2, but remained below 67.2 recorded in March. The employment measure eased to 53.0 from 53.7 in August as 25.3% of respondents indicated higher employment but a higher 16.5% reported it lower. The percentage indicating that employment held steady fell sharply to 58.2% of respondents. The supplier delivery index fell to 68.8 from 69.6 as a lessened 38.9% of respondents reported slower delivery speeds and 1.2% reported them quicker.

The prices index rose modestly to 77.5 in September after falling sharply to 75.4 in August. A higher 59.8% of respondents reported price increases while a slightly higher 1.8% reported price declines.

The export orders series declined to 59.5 in September from 60.6 in August. These figures were down from the record 65.8 in July. The imports index fell to 47.7 from 48.7 in August. The reading has collapsed from 58.2 in June. These series are not seasonally adjusted and are not included in the nonmanufacturing composite total.

The ISM figures are available in Haver's USECON database, with additional detail in the SURVEYS database. The series dates back to July 1997. The expectations figure from Action Economics is in the AS1REPNA database.

ISM Services Survey (SA) Sep Aug Jul Sep '20 2020 2019 2018
Services PMI 61.9 61.7 64.1 57.2 54.3 55.5 59.0
   Business Activity 62.3 60.1 67.0 62.8 55.8 58.0 61.6
   New Orders 63.5 63.2 63.7 61.4 55.6 57.6 61.5
   Employment 53.0 53.7 53.8 49.8 46.0 55.0 56.9
   Supplier Deliveries (NSA) 68.8 69.6 72.0 55.0 59.7 51.5 55.8
Prices Index 77.5 75.4 82.3 58.0 58.6 57.5 62.0
ISM Mfg. & Services (Haver Composite) 61.8 61.5 63.6 57.0 54.1 55.0 58.9
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