ISM Services Report: 23rd Consecutive Month of Growth

The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the April Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI). The headline Composite Index is at 57.1 percent, down 1.2 from 58.3 last month. Today's number came in below the forecast of 58.5 percent.

Here is the report summary:

(Tempe, Arizona) — Economic activity in the services sector grew in April for the 23rd month in a row — with the Services PMI® registering 57.1 percent — say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Services ISM® Report On Business®.

The report was issued today by Anthony Nieves, CPSM, C.P.M., A.P.P., CFPM, Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Services Business Survey Committee: “In April, the Services PMI® registered 57.1 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than March’s reading of 58.3 percent. The Business Activity Index registered 59.1 percent, an increase of 3.6 percentage points compared to the reading of 55.5 percent in March, and the New Orders Index figure of 54.6 percent is 5.5 percentage points lower than the March reading of 60.1 percent.

“The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 65.1 percent, 1.7 percentage points higher than the 63.4 percent reported in March. (Supplier Deliveries is the only ISM® Report On Business® index that is inversed; a reading of above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, which is typical as the economy improves and customer demand increases.)

“The Prices Index reached an all-time high of 84.6 percent, up 0.8 percentage point from the March figure of 83.8 percent and surpassing the previous record of 83.9 percent in December 2021. Services businesses are continuing to replenish inventories, as the Inventories Index expanded for a third straight month; the reading of 52.3 percent is up 0.6 percentage point from March’s figure of 51.7 percent. The Inventory Sentiment Index (46.7 percent, up 6.5 percentage points from March’s reading of 40.2 percent) contracted in April for the second consecutive month, indicating that inventories are in ‘too low’ territory and insufficient for current business requirements.”

Nieves continues, “According to the Services PMI®, 17 industries reported growth. The composite index indicated growth for the 23rd consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May 2020. Growth continues for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 147 months. There was a pullback in the composite index, mostly due to the restricted labor pool (impacting the Employment Index) and the slowing of new orders growth. Business activity remains strong; however, high inflation, capacity constraints and logistical challenges are impediments, and the Russia-Ukraine war continues to affect material costs, most notably of fuel and chemicals.” [Source]

Unlike its much older kin, the ISM Manufacturing Series, there is relatively little history for ISM's Non-Manufacturing data, especially for the headline Composite Index, which dates from 2008. The chart below shows the Non-Manufacturing Composite.

The more interesting and useful subcomponent is the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index. The latest data point at 59.1 percent is up 3.6 from a seasonally adjusted 55.5 the previous month.

ISM Services

For a diffusion index, this can be an extremely volatile indicator, hence the addition of a six-month moving average to help us visualize the short-term trends.

Theoretically, this indicator should become more useful as the time frame of its coverage expands. Manufacturing may be a more sensitive barometer than Non-Manufacturing activity, but we are increasingly a services-oriented economy, which explains our intention to keep this series on the radar.

Here is a table showing the trend in the underlying components.

Here is a link to our coverage of the latest ISM Manufacturing report.

We will publish our next ISM Non-Manufacturing report on June 3.

Read more updates by Jill Mislinski