As we await the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report on February, set to be released on March 9, there have been a number of reports released by experts and survey companies that help give us an idea of what February looked like in relation to the job market and overall productivity.
The Institute for Supply Management, ISM, took an index survey on the non-manufacturing activity going on in the U.S. this past month. Reports by experts have showed that the manufacturing industry has slowed its growth, but the service sector has apparently been expanding at its fastest rate in a year. According to ISM, non-manufacturing activity in February rose from 56.8 to 57.3. It is a small gain, but the increase indicates the third straight increase in a row for the sector. The Washington Post points out that as this sector saw growth for the third straight month, the unemployment level is the lowest it has been in three years, consumer confidence continues to rise and jobs growth has increased for the fifth straight month. Of course, the BLS jobs report will give us the hardcore figures, but for now the ISM’s report gives us good news of February.
The survey that ISM created surveyed 90 percent of non-manufacturing companies. The includes companies that are in retail, healthcare, hospitality, financial services and construction. According to ISM’s findings, the fields that reported growth include real estate, construction, hospitality, and information technology. Furthermore, the comments given by participants of the survey reflected a growing optimism in the way we view the job market and the economy. While the survey showed great growth in the sector, it also showed that hiring slowed last month but is still at a level that suggests workers are still being added.
The health of the service industry depends very heavily on consumer spending. Retail, construction, hospitality and other areas of the service sector are promoted primarily by consumer’s willingness to spend their money. If consumers feel more confident in their spending, they are likely to start more home projects, plan more vacations and buy more products which all fuel the growth of the service sector. Furthermore, the growth of the job market that has steadily been rising further promotes consumer spending which ultimately fuels the service sector’s growth.
Since the BLS jobs report has not yet been released, we can’t fall back on hardcore figures just yet to prove how the job market and the economy is improving. However, we can look upon the findings of other experts and surveys such as this one from ISM to paint us a picture of the month of February. So far, it looks as though our market, economy and overall outlook on the health of these two areas are steadily improving as the year moves on.