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ISM: Services Sector Grew in May

June 7, 2022

Economic activity in the services sector grew in May for the 24th month in a row with the Services PMI registering 55.9 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 May, the Services PMI registered 55.9 percent, 1.2 percentage points lower than April's reading of 57.1 percent. This is the lowest reading since February 2021, when the index also registered 55.9 percent. The Business Activity Index registered 54.5 percent, a decrease of 4.6 percentage points compared to the reading of 59.1 percent in April, and the New Orders Index figure of 57.6 percent is 3 percentage points higher than the April reading of 54.6 percent.

"The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 61.3 percent, 3.8 percentage points lower than the 65.1 percent reported in April. (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 dropped from the all-time high of 84.6 percent in April, decreasing 2.5 percentage points to 82.1 percent. Services businesses continue to struggle to replenish inventories, as the Inventories Index grew, but at a slower rate. The reading of 51 percent is down 1.3 percentage points from April's figure of 52.3 percent. The Inventory Sentiment Index (44.5 percent, down 2.2 percentage points from April's reading of 46.7 percent) contracted in May for the third consecutive month, indicating that inventories are in 'too low' territory and insufficient for current business requirements."

Nieves continues, "According to the Services PMI, 14 industries reported growth. The composite index indicated growth for the 24th consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May 2020. Growth continues albeit slower for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 148 months. The sector's slowdown was due to a decline in business activity and slowing supplier deliveries. The Employment Index (50.2 percent) returned to expansion territory, and the Backlog of Orders Index grew, though at a slower rate. COVID-19 continues to disrupt the services sector, as well as the war in Ukraine. Labor is still a big issue, and prices continue to increase."

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE

The 14 services industries reporting growth in May listed in order are: Mining; Construction; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Educational Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Utilities; Accommodation & Food Services; Wholesale Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Other Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Public Administration. The three industries reporting a decrease are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Retail Trade; and Information.

WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING

  • "Supply chain improving, with more reliability of supplier deliveries. Inflationary pressures increased on goods and services. Employment also improving in most markets. Fewer daily fires and more planning time." [Accommodation & Food Services]
  • "Demand seems to be very high for all of the high-voltage electric products we purchase. Lead times are quadruple what they normally are." [Construction]
  • "Long lead times continue to plague equipment deliveries; higher prices or surcharges added to pricing proposals. The ban on Russian imports is causing a shortage of gasses, especially helium. There has been an increase in new college applicants, signaling a strengthening of the higher education sector." [Educational Services]
  • "The paper industry is still being hampered by employment issues, freight costs and scarcity of truckers, as well as the war in Ukraine. European paper sent to North America is being slashed due to the war and the lack of fiber, along with high energy costs. Mills in North America are still struggling to keep up with demand." [Information]
  • "Unstable prices on various commodities are making budgetary planning difficult. We are maintaining a cautious approach due to energy costs continuing to increase." [Management of Companies & Support Services]
  • "Demand for all labor types remains strong, as open positions continue to exceed candidates to fill those positions. Light industrial, heavy industrial and information technology labor roles are particularly difficult to fill. Companies are having to pay more and offer incentives to attract talent. Resignations continue at a record pace across all age groups, and baby boomer retirements continue to increase." [Professional, Scientific & Technical Services]
  • "Concerns about how the new COVID-19 subvariants and rising cases may impact staffing." [Public Administration]
  • "Chip shortage showing no signs of easing." [Retail Trade]
  • "Exhausting. Continuous shortages, transportation delays and price increases all contribute to the destruction of historical lead times and firm commitments on delivery dates. This requires placing orders earlier and qualifying secondary sources. It is relentless." [Utilities]
  • "National consumer and builder demand continues to drive sales domestically. COVID-19 in China continues to affect our supply chain more than the Russia-Ukraine war." [Wholesale Trade]

ISM SERVICES SURVEY RESULTS AT A GLANCE

COMPARISON OF ISM SERVICES AND ISM MANUFACTURING SURVEYS

May 2022

Index

 Services PMI

Manufacturing PMI

Series
Index

May

Series
Index

Apr

Percent
Point
Change

 

 

Direction

 

Rate of
Change

 

Trend*

(Months)

Series
Index

May

Series
Index

Apr

Percent
Point
Change

Services PMI

55.9

57.1

-1.2

Growing

Slower

24

56.1

55.4

+0.7

Business Activity/

Production

54.5

59.1

-4.6

Growing

Slower

24

54.2

53.6

+0.6

New Orders

57.6

54.6

+3.0

Growing

Faster

24

55.1

53.5

+1.6

Employment

50.2

49.5

+0.7

Growing

From
Contracting

1

49.6

50.9

-1.3

Supplier Deliveries

61.3

65.1

-3.8

Slowing

Slower

36

65.7

67.2

-1.5

Inventories

51.0

52.3

-1.3

Growing

Slower

4

55.9

51.6

+4.3

Prices

82.1

84.6

-2.5

Increasing

Slower

60

82.2

84.6

-2.4

Backlog of Orders

52.0

59.4

-7.4

Growing

Slower

17

58.7

56.0

+2.7

New Export Orders

60.9

58.1

+2.8

Growing

Faster

4

52.9

52.7

+0.2

Imports

52.8

52.9

-0.1

Growing

Slower

2

48.7

51.4

-2.7

Inventory Sentiment

44.5

46.7

-2.2

Too Low

Faster

3

N/A

N/A

N/A

Customers' Inventories

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

32.7

37.1

-4.4

OVERALL ECONOMY

Growing

Slower

24


 

Services Sector

Growing

Slower

24


 

Services ISM Report On Business data is seasonally adjusted for the Business Activity, New Orders, Employment and Prices indexes. Manufacturing ISM Report On Business data is seasonally adjusted for New Orders, Production, Employment and Inventories indexes.
*Number of months moving in current direction.

COMMODITIES REPORTED UP/DOWN IN PRICE, AND IN SHORT SUPPLY

Commodities Up in Price
Airfares; Aluminum (2); Aluminum Products (6); Beef; Benefits; Cable; Caustic Soda; Cheese; Chemicals (2); Chicken (9); Chlorine Liquid; Construction Materials; Dairy Products (2); Diesel Exhaust Fluid; Diesel Fuel (18); Electrical Components (16); Electricity; Electronic Components (6); Energy; Engine Components; Fish; Food and Beverages (2); Food Products (3); Freight (13); Fuel (17); Fuel Related Products (3); Gasoline (18); Hotel Rates; Labor (18); Labor Temporary (4); Natural Gas (3); Office and Computer Supplies (3); Paper (4); Paper Products (6); Petroleum (3); Plastic Products (10); Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Products (9); Resin; Rubber Products; Shipping Costs (2); Steel Products* (17); Transportation Costs (4); Travel; Vehicles; and Wood Items.

Commodities Down in Price
Copper Products; and Steel Products*.

Commodities in Short Supply
Appliances (3); Baby Formula; Chemicals; Coated Freesheet; Construction Materials; Contrast Media; Diesel Fuel; Electrical Components (2); Electronic Components (6); Food and Beverages; Food Service Equipment; Groundwood Paper; Labor (10); Labor Temporary (3); Microchips; Needles and Syringes (5); Paper Products (3); Semiconductors (2); Steel; Steel Products; Transformers; Vehicles; and Wire and Cable.

Note: The number of consecutive months the commodity is listed is indicated after each item. *Indicates both up and down in price.

MAY 2022 SERVICES INDEX SUMMARIES

Services PMI
In May, the Services PMI registered 55.9 percent, a 1.2-percentage point decrease compared to the April reading of 57.7 percent. The 12-month average is 61.2 percent, which reflects consistently strong growth in the services sector. This month's reading, however, is the lowest figure since February 2021, when the index also registered 55.9 percent. The May reading indicates the services sector grew for the 24th consecutive month. A reading above 50 percent indicates the services sector economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates the services sector is generally contracting.

A Services PMI above 50.1 percent, over time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the May Services PMI indicates the overall economy has followed the same path as the services sector: expansion for 24 straight months following two months of contraction and a preceding period of 122 months of growth. Nieves says, "The past relationship between the Services PMI and the overall economy indicates that the Services PMI for May (55.9 percent) corresponds to a 2.1-percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis."

SERVICES PMI HISTORY

Month

Services PMI

Month

Services PMI

May 2022

55.9

Nov 2021

68.4

Apr 2022

57.1

Oct 2021

66.7

Mar 2022

58.3

Sep 2021

62.6

Feb 2022

56.5

Aug 2021

62.2

Jan 2022

59.9

Jul 2021

64.1

Dec 2021

62.3

Jun 2021

60.7

Average for 12 months 61.2

High 68.4

Low 55.9

Business Activity
ISM's Business Activity Index registered 54.5 percent in May, a decrease of 4.6 percentage points from the reading of 59.1 percent in April, indicating growth for the 24th consecutive month. Comments from respondents include: "Continued business recovery is evident" and "Inflation and higher interest rates."

The 13 industries reporting an increase in business activity for the month of May listed in order are: Mining; Construction; Educational Services; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Management of Companies & Support Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Utilities; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Wholesale Trade; Public Administration; Transportation & Warehousing; and Health Care & Social Assistance. The three industries reporting a decrease in business activity for the month of May are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Retail Trade; and Information.

Business Activity

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

27.1

59.6

13.3

54.5

Apr 2022

37.8

55.7

6.5

59.1

Mar 2022

30.7

54.6

14.7

55.5

Feb 2022

24.4

59.3

16.3

55.1

New Orders
ISM's New Orders Index registered 57.6 percent, up 3 percentage points from the April reading of 54.6 percent. New orders grew for the 24th consecutive month after two months of contraction and a preceding period of 128 months of expansion. Comments from respondents include: "Consumers becoming more optimistic in training, in spite of dire economic news" and "Large capital expenditure investments in renewable energy space."

Fifteen industries reported growth of new orders in May, in the following order: Construction; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Educational Services; Mining; Management of Companies & Support Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Utilities; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Wholesale Trade; Transportation & Warehousing; Accommodation & Food Services; Finance & Insurance; Other Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Public Administration. The two industries reporting a decrease in new orders in May are Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; and Information.

New Orders

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

31.2

54.7

14.1

57.6

Apr 2022

32.9

55.6

11.5

54.6

Mar 2022

31.0

58.0

11.0

60.1

Feb 2022

28.4

57.5

14.1

56.1

Employment
Employment activity in the services sector grew in May after contracting in April. ISM's Employment Index registered 50.2 percent, up 0.7 percentage point from the reading of 49.5 percent registered in April. Comments from respondents include: "Head count is increasing over last month, but that is due to filling vacant positions; no increase in overall projected staff level" and "Supplementing temporary (labor) to get the job done; the Great Resignation didn't just affect the nursing field." Also: "Gas prices are affecting my labor pool."

The nine industries reporting an increase in employment in May  listed in order are: Mining; Construction; Accommodation & Food Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Other Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Wholesale Trade; and Health Care & Social Assistance. The six industries reporting a decrease in employment in May  listed in order are: Retail Trade; Finance & Insurance; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Information; Management of Companies & Support Services; and Public Administration.

Employment

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

26.1

51.2

22.7

50.2

Apr 2022

24.6

52.3

23.1

49.5

Mar 2022

24.9

59.4

15.7

54.0

Feb 2022

19.4

54.9

25.7

48.5

Supplier Deliveries
The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 61.3 percent, down 3.8 percentage points from the 65.1 percent registered in April. A reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, while a reading below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries. Comments from respondents include: "Due to shortages in steel and aluminum, suppliers are pushing out deliveries, including for specialty fasteners and other components" and "Electronic components are pushing out deliveries further each month." Also: "Railroads are operating at a slower pace, while trucks are seasonally busy but available at increased prices."

The 15 industries reporting slower deliveries in May  listed in order are: Mining; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Transportation & Warehousing; Educational Services; Utilities; Wholesale Trade; Construction; Health Care & Social Assistance; Public Administration; Finance & Insurance; Information; Other Services; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. The only industry reporting faster supplier deliveries in May is Retail Trade.

Supplier Deliveries

%Slower

%Same

%Faster

Index

May 2022

27.4

67.7

4.9

61.3

Apr 2022

34.0

62.2

3.8

65.1

Mar 2022

32.7

61.4

5.9

63.4

Feb 2022

35.3

61.7

3.0

66.2

Inventories
The Inventories Index grew in May for the fourth consecutive month after eight preceding months of contraction. The reading of 51 percent was a 1.3-percentage point decrease from the 52.3 percent reported in April. Of the total respondents in May, 39 percent indicated they do not have inventories or do not measure them. Comments from respondents include: "Buying in advance of price increases" and "Ordering a bit more to hedge against continuing supply chain issues, as well as rising prices."

The seven industries reporting an increase in inventories in May listed in order are: Accommodation & Food Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Retail Trade; Wholesale Trade; Utilities; Construction; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. The seven industries reporting a decrease in inventories in May listed in order are: Mining; Management of Companies & Support Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Educational Services; Public Administration; Information; and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Inventories

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

24.7

52.7

22.6

51.0

Apr 2022

22.4

59.7

17.9

52.3

Mar 2022

23.1

57.1

19.8

51.7

Feb 2022

26.7

48.1

25.2

50.8

Prices
Prices paid by services organizations for materials and services increased in May for the 60th consecutive month, with the index registering 82.1 percent, 2.5 percentage points lower than the all-time high recorded in April (84.6 percent), which exceeded the seasonally adjusted figure of 83.9 percent registered in December 2021.

All 18 services industries reported an increase in prices paid during the month of May, in the following order: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Construction; Management of Companies & Support Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Wholesale Trade; Other Services; Public Administration; Educational Services; Finance & Insurance; Retail Trade; Information; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Utilities; and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting.

Prices

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

72.2

26.8

1.0

82.1

Apr 2022

75.4

24.4

0.2

84.6

Mar 2022

72.9

26.5

0.6

83.8

Feb 2022

63.8

35.7

0.5

83.1

NOTE: Commodities reported as up in price and down in price are listed in the commodities section of this report.

Backlog of Orders
The ISM Services Backlog of Orders Index grew in May for the 17th consecutive month. The index registered 52 percent, a 7.4-percentage point decrease compared to the April reading of 59.4 percent. Of the total respondents in May, 46 percent indicated they do not measure backlog of orders. Respondent comments include: "Capacity constraints, shipping delays, and labor shortages are still impacting supplier delivery performance" and "Again, we can't catch up because of continued supply chain issues  petroleum prices, overall inflation and a lack of labor  which are causing significant issues for us and our partner suppliers."

The eight industries reporting an increase in order backlogs in May listed in order are: Management of Companies & Support Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Utilities; Wholesale Trade; Transportation & Warehousing; Educational Services; Construction; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. The six industries reporting a decrease in order backlogs in May listed in order are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Information; Public Administration; and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Backlog of Orders

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

17.4

69.2

13.4

52.0

Apr 2022

26.4

66.1

7.5

59.4

Mar 2022

33.1

62.9

4.0

64.5

Feb 2022

34.6

59.2

6.2

64.2

New Export Orders
Orders and requests for services and other non-manufacturing activities to be provided outside of the U.S. by domestically based companies grew in May for the fourth consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index registered 60.9 percent, a 2.8-percentage point increase from the 58.1 percent reported in April. Of the total respondents in May, 74 percent indicated they do not perform, or do not separately measure, orders for work outside of the U.S.

The six industries reporting an increase in new export orders in May listed in order  are: Mining; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Accommodation & Food Services; Utilities; Retail Trade; and Transportation & Warehousing. The four industries reporting a decrease in new export orders in May are: Construction; Information; Educational Services; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. Eight industries indicated no change in new export orders in May.

New Export Orders

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

27.1

67.6

5.3

60.9

Apr 2022

22.4

71.4

6.2

58.1

Mar 2022

29.1

63.8

7.1

61.0

Feb 2022

10.2

85.5

4.3

53.0

Imports
The Imports Index grew in May for the second month in a row, registering 52.8 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from April's reading of 52.9 percent. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported that they do not use, or do not track the use of, imported materials.

The five industries reporting an increase in imports for the month of May are: Retail Trade; Mining; Transportation & Warehousing; Utilities; and Wholesale Trade. The four industries that reported a decrease in imports in May are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Other Services; Accommodation & Food Services; and Health Care & Social Assistance. Nine industries reported no change in imports in May.

Imports

%Higher

%Same

%Lower

Index

May 2022

14.1

77.6

8.3

52.8

Apr 2022

13.6

78.6

7.8

52.9

Mar 2022

11.9

66.2

21.9

45.0

Feb 2022

11.1

81.1

7.8

51.7

Inventory Sentiment
The ISM Services Inventory Sentiment Index contracted in May for the third month in a row, registering 44.5 percent, a 2.2-percentage point decrease from April's figure of 46.7 percent. This reading indicates that respondents feel their inventories are too low when correlated to business activity levels.

The 10 industries reporting sentiment that their inventories were too high in May  listed in order are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Other Services; Accommodation & Food Services; Utilities; Health Care & Social Assistance; Finance & Insurance; Retail Trade; Wholesale Trade; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. The four industries reporting a feeling that their inventories were too low in May are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Transportation & Warehousing; Public Administration; and Management of Companies & Support Services.

Inventory Sentiment

%Too

High

%About Right

%Too

Low

Index

May 2022

21.7

45.6

32.7

44.5

Apr 2022

21.0

51.4

27.6

46.7

Mar 2022

12.2

55.9

31.9

40.2

Feb 2022

28.7

53.2

18.1

55.3

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