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Services Sector Grows - PMI at 62%

January 7, 2022

Economic activity in the services sector grew in December for the 19th month in a row — with the Services PMI exceeding 60 percent for the 10th consecutive month — 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 Services Business Survey Committee: “In December, the Services PMI registered 62 percent, 7.1 percentage points below November’s all-time high reading of 69.1 percent. The Business Activity Index registered 67.6 percent, a decrease of 7 percentage points compared to the reading of 74.6 percent in November, and the New Orders Index registered 61.5 percent, 8.2 percentage points lower than the all-time high reading of 69.7 percent reported in November.

“The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 63.9 percent, 11.8 percentage points lower than the 75.7 percent that was reported in November. (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 its third-highest reading ever at 82.5 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the November figure of 82.3 percent. Services businesses continue to struggle replenishing inventories, as the Inventories Index (46.7 percent, down 1.5 percentage points from November’s reading of 48.2 percent) and the Inventory Sentiment Index (registering 38.3 percent, up 1.9 percentage points from November) stayed in contraction or ‘too low’ territory in December.”

Nieves continues, “According to the Services PMI®, 16 services industries reported growth. The composite index indicated growth for the 19th consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May 2020. Although there was a pullback for most of the indexes in December, the rate of growth remains strong for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 143 months. Business Survey Committee respondents have indicated that they continue to struggle with inflation, supply chain disruptions, capacity constraints, logistical challenges and shortages of labor and materials.”

INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE

The 16 services industries reporting growth in December — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Wholesale Trade; Construction; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Retail Trade; Other Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Utilities; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Public Administration; Finance & Insurance; Information; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and Educational Services. The only industry reporting contraction in December is Mining.

WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING

  • “Supply chain challenges to procure supplies for our restaurants remains our greatest obstacle at present, along with staffing needs. We are considering another price increase after just one in 2021, in August.” [Accommodation & Food Services]
  • “Supply chain issues continue, but our business is adapting.” [Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting]
  • “The escalation in costs for materials, fuel, labor, lodging and the like continues to negatively impact margins in an unsustainable direction.” [Construction]
  • “Higher than normal employee attrition within our own company and at our suppliers, which is causing disruptions and delays.” [Finance & Insurance]
  • "There is widespread fatigue across the organization as COVID-19 hospitalizations have plateaued, but in the face of yet another variant (omicron), the winter forecast is not positive. Although hospitalizations have eased, demand for services is up, as is acuity of patients. Due to mainly logistical concerns, the supply chain remains turbulent and some supply shortages, including of Vacutainers, are hindering operations. Our organization is cautiously optimistic going into flu season.” [Health Care & Social Assistance]
  • “Most upstream production materials are being pressured by constrained supply chains as well as domestic transportation challenges. Vendors are trying not to pass on expenses, but their margins are such that they will need to raise prices. While we have done a good job holding prices down, we will not be able to hold the vendors at bay. All (cost of goods) will be impacted.” [Information]
  • "Activity continues to maintain a steady pace. Inventory levels and outages are persistent with our suppliers; however, starting to see some relief in the supply chain, but not below the critical point yet. Prices continue to be driven up, with shipping costs the largest driver due to inflated pressures on capacity and fuel costs.” [Other Services]
  • “Electronic chip (shortage) is severely affecting deliveries from our supply base, thus impacting our ability to deliver to customers.” [Professional, Scientific & Technical Services]
  • “Long lead times, transportation bottlenecks, delivery inconsistency and price increases continue to affect a range of products.” [Retail Trade]
  • “We continue to experience supply chain disruptions across the nation and around the globe, resulting in raw material and subcomponent shortages, longer manufacturer lead times, transportation resource constraints, labor pool issues and significant price increases. Supply management continues to recommend pulling in demand, placing orders earlier than historical lead times for long lead-time materials, and qualifying secondary sources of supply (if applicable).” [Utilities]
  • “Demand is good, but supply chain issues continue to get worse. Trucking availability is worsening. Labor shortages are causing issues. We could do much more business if we had more people and access to more products.” [Wholesale Trade]

ISM® SERVICES SURVEY RESULTS AT A GLANCE COMPARISON OF ISM® SERVICES AND ISM® MANUFACTURING SURVEYS*
December 2021

  Services PMI® Manufacturing PMI®
Index Series Index Dec Series Index Nov Percent Point Change Direction Rate of Change Trend** (Months) Series Index Dec Series Index Nov Percent Point Change
Services PMI® 62.0 69.1 -7.1 Growing Slower 19 58.7 61.1 -2.4
Business Activity/ Production 67.6 74.6 -7.0 Growing Slower 19 59.2 61.5 -2.3
New Orders 61.5 69.7 -8.2 Growing Slower 19 60.4 61.5 -1.1
Employment 54.9 56.5 -1.6 Growing Slower 6 54.2 53.3 +0.9
Supplier Deliveries 63.9 75.7 -11.8 Slowing Slower 31 64.9 72.2 -7.3
Inventories 46.7 48.2 -1.5 Contracting Faster 7 54.7 56.8 -2.1
Prices 82.5 82.3 +0.2 Increasing Faster 55 68.2 82.4 -14.2
Backlog of Orders 62.3 65.9 -3.6 Growing Slower 12 62.8 61.9 +0.9
New Export Orders 61.5 57.9 +3.6 Growing Faster 11 53.6 54.0 -0.4
Imports 55.5 50.5 +5.0 Growing Faster 3 53.8 52.6 +1.2
Inventory Sentiment 38.3 36.4 +1.9 Too Low Slower 9 N/A N/A N/A
Customers' Inventories N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 31.7 25.1 +6.6
Overall Economy Growing Slower 19
Services Sector Growing Slower 19

Services ISM® Report On Business® data is seasonally adjusted for the Business Activity, New Orders, Prices and Employment 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


Aluminum Products; Chemicals (4); Chicken (4); Construction Contractors (6); Copper Products; Diesel Fuel (13); Electrical Components (11); Electronic Components; Food and Beverages; Freight (8); Fuel (12); Gasoline* (13); Labor (13); Labor — Construction (5); Labor — Technical (2); Metal Based Products; Paper Products; Personal Protection Equipment (PPE); Plastic Products (5); Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Products (4); Professional Services (2); Resin Based Products; Software; Steel (3); Steel Products* (12); Sulfuric Acid; Transformers; and Transportation Costs (3).

Commodities Down in Price


Dairy Products; Gasoline*; and Steel Products*.

Commodities in Short Supply


Appliances; Computer Equipment (5); Construction Contractors (4); Construction Materials (2); Construction Subcontractors (5); Crutches (3); Electronic Assemblies; Electronic Components; Labor (5); Labor — Temporary; Laptops and Desktop Computers (5); Microchips; Packaging; Pipette Tips (10); Plastic Products (2); Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Conduit; Steel Products (4); and Suction Canisters (2).

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

DECEMBER 2021 SERVICES INDEX SUMMARIES


Services PMI®

In December, the Services PMI® registered 62 percent, a 7.1-percentage point decrease compared to the November figure of 69.1 percent. The 12-month average is 62.5 percent, which reflects strong and sustained demand in the services sector. The December reading indicates the services sector grew for the 19th consecutive month after two months of contraction and 122 months of growth before that. 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 49.2 percent, over time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the December Services PMI® indicates expansion for a 19th straight month following two months of contraction and a preceding period of 127 months of growth. Nieves says, “The past relationship between the Services PMI® and the overall economy indicates that the Services PMI® for December (62 percent) corresponds to a 4.5-percent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis.”

SERVICES PMI® HISTORY

Month Services PMI®
Dec 2021 62.0
Nov 2021 69.1
Oct 2021 66.7
Sep 2021 61.9
Aug 2021 61.7
Jul 2021 64.1
Month Services PMI®
Jun 2021 60.1
May 2021 64.0
Apr 2021 62.7
Mar 2021 63.7
Feb 2021 55.3
Jan 2021 58.7
62.5
69.1
55.3

Business Activity

ISM®’s Business Activity Index registered 67.6 percent in December, a decrease of 7 percentage points from the all-time high mark of 74.6 percent in November, indicating growth for the 19th consecutive month. Comments from respondents include: “Increased demand for services” and “Business tends to pick up in the fourth quarter due to completing last-minute objectives and spending year-end cash.”

The 15 industries reporting an increase in business activity for the month of December — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Retail Trade; Wholesale Trade; Health Care & Social Assistance; Management of Companies & Support Services; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Construction; Other Services; Finance & Insurance; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Utilities; Information; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Public Administration. The three industries reporting a decrease in December compared to November listed in order are: Mining; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; and Educational Services.

Business Activity % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 34.5 56.1 9.4 67.6
Nov 2021 45.6 49.3 5.1 74.6
Oct 2021 42.5 52.3 5.2 69.8
Sep 2021 40.6 49.1 10.3 62.3

New Orders

ISM®’s New Orders Index registered 61.5 percent, down 8.2 percentage points from the all-time high reading of 69.7 registered in October and November. New orders grew for the 19th consecutive month after two months of contraction and a preceding period of 128 months of expansion. Comments from respondents include: “New customers added, which has led to greater sales orders and business activity” and “Increased customer activity related to infrastructure needs.”

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

New Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 30.8 54.5 14.7 61.5
Nov 2021 39.9 56.2 3.9 69.7
Oct 2021 43.6 47.7 8.7 69.7
Sep 2021 40.2 52.0 7.8 63.5

Employment

Employment activity in the services sector grew in December for the sixth consecutive month after contracting in June. ISM®’s Services Employment Index registered 54.9 percent in December, down 1.6 percentage points from the November reading of 56.5 percent. Comments from respondents include: “The ‘Great Resignation’ is hitting us, and we’re struggling to backfill positions in a timely manner. With fast food restaurants offering sign-on bonuses and high pay for lower-level jobs, we are having to relook at our policies and incentive programs” and “Not enough potential employees in the pipeline/employees leaving for other opportunities at higher wages.”

The 11 industries reporting an increase in employment in December — listed in order — are: Retail Trade; Accommodation & Food Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Transportation & Warehousing; Wholesale Trade; Utilities; Educational Services; Public Administration; Construction; and Information. The three industries that reported a reduction in employment in December are: Mining; Finance & Insurance; and Health Care & Social Assistance.

Employment % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 30.1 47.9 22.0 54.9
Nov 2021 28.9 53.6 17.5 56.5
Oct 2021 25.7 52.9 21.4 51.6
Sep 2021 25.3 58.2 16.5 53.0

Supplier Deliveries

The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 63.9 percent, down 11.8 percentage points from the 75.7 percent registered in November. A reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, while a reading below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries. Comments from respondents include: “Port congestion continues to delay product deliveries” and “Shortage of raw materials is adding weeks to some orders.”

The 15 industries reporting slower deliveries in December — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Other Services; Construction; Health Care & Social Assistance; Mining; Wholesale Trade; Utilities; Educational Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Information; Public Administration; Transportation & Warehousing; and Finance & Insurance. No industries reported faster supplier deliveries in December.

Supplier Deliveries % Slower % Same % Faster Index
Dec 2021 36.4 55.0 8.6 63.9
Nov 2021 52.6 46.1 1.3 75.7
Oct 2021 52.6 46.1 1.3 75.7
Sep 2021 38.9 59.9 1.2 68.8

Inventories

The Inventories Index contracted in December for the seventh consecutive month. The reading of 46.7 percent was a 1.5-percentage point decrease from the 48.2 percent reported in November. Of the total respondents in December, 42 percent indicated they do not have inventories or do not measure them. Comments from respondents include: “Longer supplier lead times are causing us to eat into inventory” and “Constraints continue to work down inventory.”

The six industries reporting an increase in inventories in December — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Wholesale Trade. The six industries reporting a decrease in inventories in December — listed in order — are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Finance & Insurance; Educational Services; Construction; Information; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. Six industries reported no change in December compared to November.

Inventories % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 16.7 59.9 23.4 46.7
Nov 2021 22.1 52.2 25.7 48.2
Oct 2021 19.4 45.7 34.9 42.2
Sep 2021 18.6 55.1 26.3 46.1

Prices

Prices paid by services organizations for materials and services increased in December for the 55th consecutive month, with the index registering 82.5 percent, 0.2 percentage point higher than November’s reading of 82.3 percent. This is the index’s third-highest reading; its all-time high is 83.5 percent (September 2005) with the second highest (82.9 percent) occurring two months ago in October.

All 18 services industries reported an increase in prices paid during the month of December, in the following order: Accommodation & Food Services; Mining; Management of Companies & Support Services; Other Services; Wholesale Trade; Utilities; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Construction; Educational Services; Information; Transportation & Warehousing; Public Administration; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Retail Trade; Finance & Insurance; Health Care & Social Assistance; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting. No industries reported a decrease in prices paid in December.

Prices % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 57.4 41.1 1.5 82.5
Nov 2021 63.0 36.3 0.7 82.3
Oct 2021 66.2 32.6 1.2 82.9
Sep 2021 59.8 38.4 1.8 77.5
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 December for the 18th time in the last 19 months. The index registered 62.3 percent, a 3.6-percentage point decrease compared to the previous month’s reading of 65.9 percent. Of the total respondents in December, 37 percent indicated they do not measure backlog of orders. Respondent comments include: “Manufacturers report raw material shortages resulting in back orders; demand outpacing supply” and “Still with a steady backlog for various reasons and supply chain issues many are dealing with (extended lead times, slower logistics, pricing and the like).”

The 11 industries reporting an increase in order backlogs in December — listed in order — are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Accommodation & Food Services; Construction; Health Care & Social Assistance; Utilities; Wholesale Trade; Retail Trade; Finance & Insurance; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Transportation & Warehousing; and Public Administration. The six industries that reported a decrease in backlogs in December — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Mining; Management of Companies & Support Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Information; and Educational Services.

Backlog of Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 35.4 53.8 10.8 62.3
Nov 2021 38.8 54.1 7.1 65.9
Oct 2021 38.6 57.3 4.1 67.3
Sep 2021 34.0 55.9 10.1 61.9

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 December for the 11th consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index registered 61.5 percent, 3.6 percentage points higher than the 57.9 percent reported in November. Of the total respondents in December, 76 percent indicated they either 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 December — listed in order — are: Construction; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Transportation & Warehousing; Retail Trade; Wholesale Trade; and Information. The five industries reporting a decrease in new export orders in December are: Mining; Utilities; Accommodation & Food Services; Educational Services; and Health Care & Social Assistance. Seven industries reported no change in exports orders.

New Export Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 33.5 56.1 10.4 61.5
Nov 2021 20.9 73.9 5.2 57.9
Oct 2021 27.8 69.2 3.0 62.3
Sep 2021 24.2 70.7 5.1 59.5

Imports

The Imports Index grew in December for the third consecutive month, as it registered 55.5 percent, 5 percentage points higher than November’s figure of 50.5 percent. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported that they do not use, or do not track the use of, imported materials.

The four industries reporting an increase in imports for the month of December are: Retail Trade; Transportation & Warehousing; Wholesale Trade; and Professional, Scientific & Technical Services. No industries reported a decrease in imports in December. Fourteen industries reported no change in imports in December.

Imports % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Dec 2021 20.6 69.7 9.7 55.5
Nov 2021 8.3 84.4 7.3 50.5
Oct 2021 20.8 64.9 14.3 53.3
Sep 2021 5.7 84.1 10.2 47.7

Inventory Sentiment

The ISM® Services Inventory Sentiment Index contracted in December for the ninth consecutive month, registering 38.3 percent, a 1.9-percentage point increase from November’s all-time low figure of 36.4 percent. This indicates that respondents feel their inventories are too low when correlated to business activity levels.

The four industries reporting sentiment that their inventories were too high in December are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Management of Companies & Support Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Wholesale Trade. The nine industries reporting a feeling that their inventories were too low in December — listed in order — are: Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Accommodation & Food Services; Retail Trade; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Educational Services; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Public Administration; Information; and Utilities.

Inventory Sentiment % Too High % About Right % Too Low Index
Dec 2021 11.5 53.7 34.8 38.3
Nov 2021 10.0 52.7 37.3 36.4
Oct 2021 12.3 49.9 37.8 37.3
Sep 2021 13.3 65.9 20.8 46.3

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