Services Sector Expands (but More Slowly) for March

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. 

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index Chart

ISM Non-Manufacturing Index data by YCharts.

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."

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