The services sector improved in March for the 39th consecutive month, according to the Institute for Supply Management's Report on Business released today.
The Institute's Non-Manufacturing Index registered an overall 54.4% rating, down from February's 56% and lower than market analysts' expectations of another 56%. However, the reading above 50% indicates an overall services sector expansion.
The index is comprised of four main components, all of which expanded at a slower rate for March. Business activity fell 0.4 points to 56.5%, new orders fell 3.6 points to 54.6%, employment dropped 3.9 points to 53.3%, and prices fell 5.8 points to 55.9%.
Fifteen services industries reported growth in March, led by construction, company support/management, and transportation & warehousing. Mining, health care, and agriculture, forestry, fishing & hunting all reported contractions for March.
According to the report, surveyed businesses are generally optimistic, but there is "an underlying concern regarding the uncertainty of the future economy."