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Economy in Brief

U.S. ISM Services Index Jumped to a New Record Level in November
by Kathleen Stephansen, CBE  December 3, 2021

• The rise in services activity reflects strength in business activity and new orders.

• The business activity index reached a new high.

• The price index stays elevated.

The ISM Index of Services Activity registered another all-time high of 69.1 in November up sharply from the prior all-time high of 66.7 in October. The series dates back to July 1997. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had expected a jump to 65.0 from 61.8 in October. Haver Analytics constructs a composite index combining the services index and the manufacturing reading. This index jumped to a new record high of 68.2 from 66.0 in October.

In this services survey, the business activity reading jumped to a new high of 74.6 in November from 69.8 in October. The new orders index held steady in November at 69.7, also the highest level for the series. The employment measure rose to 56.5 from 51.6 in October, with an increased 28.9% of respondents indicating higher employment and a lessened 17.5% reporting it lower. The percentage indicating that employment held steady rose to 53.6% of respondents. The supplier delivery index (NSA) held steady at 75.7 in November from October, with a steady 52.6% of respondents reporting slower delivery speeds and a steady 1.3% reporting them quicker.

The prices index inched down to 82.3 during November, from a near-record 82.9 in October. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported price increases versus 66.2% in October, while a minimal 0.7% reported price declines.

The export orders series declined to 57.9 in November from 62.3 in October. The record 65.8 was reached in July. The imports index eased to 50.5 in November from 53.3 in October. The order backlog measure declined to 65.9 from a record 67.3 in October, while the inventory change index rose to 48.2 from 42.2. 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 expectations figure from Action Economics is in the AS1REPNA database.

ISM Services Survey (SA) Nov Oct Sep Nov '20 2020 2019 2018
Services PMI 69.1 66.7 61.9 56.8 54.3 55.5 59.0
   Business Activity 74.6 69.8 62.3 59.6 55.8 58.0 61.6
   New Orders 69.7 69.7 63.5 59.0 55.6 57.6 61.5
   Employment 56.5 51.6 53.0 51.5 46.0 55.0 56.9
   Supplier Deliveries (NSA) 75.7 75.7 68.8 57.1 59.7 51.5 55.8
Prices Index 82.3 82.9 77.5 63.9 58.6 57.5 62.0
ISM Mfg. & Services (Haver Composite) 68.2 66.0 61.8 56.9 54.1 55.0 58.9
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