ISM Non-Manufacturing Shows Slowing Services Economy in January

We are nowhere close to a recession, yet, but the non-manufacturing economy is slowing. This matters as the United States remains a post-manufacturing economy, and it is the domestic services and non-manufacturing sector that handily dominates over the manufacturing sector when it comes to new jobs creation in America.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) has released its non-manufacturing survey results for January of 2019. The non-manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 56.7 from 58.0 in December. Dow Jones had a consensus estimate of 57.0, and anything above 50.0 is meant to represent economic expansion. Also worth noting is that more than two-thirds of the gross domestic product in America is now tied to consumer spending.

While this is a drop in the monthly reading, economists and the investing communities have now seen 108 consecutive quarters of growth.

The three main portions of the report were actually above the non-manufacturing ISM total average but were handily lower outside of the employment portion of this monthly report. The Business Activity Index was 59.7%, down 1.5 points from December. The New Orders Index for January fell five points from December to 57.7%, while the Employment Index actually rose 1.2 points from December to 57.8%. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 59.7%, a 1.5-point drop from December.

Some uptick also was seen in prices, which points toward continued inflationary pressures. The Prices Index rose by 1.4 percentage points from the December reading of 58.0% to 59.4% in January. This marked the 20th consecutive month with prices being higher.

According to the non-Manufacturing ISM, 11 non-manufacturing industries reported growth, and respondents were concerned about the impacts of the government shutdown while they remained mostly optimistic about business conditions in general.

Only the inventories portion of this ISM report was under 50.0, contracting to 49.0 from 51.5. That said, more subindex items had negative changes in January than in December, with slower growth readings coming from new export orders and imports. Inventory sentiment ticked up, as did the backlog of orders.

There is a general read-through for the broader economy here. The January report is said to correspond with a 2.8% increase in real gross domestic product on an annualized basis. That said, this was just the first month of the year and many industries are seeing slower growth, and that partial government shutdown did last for most of January.

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