February was another good month for the non-manufacturing, or services, sector of the economy.
The Institute for Supply Management reports the the NMI rose 1.1% last month to 57.6% -- the highest reading since October 2015, and the 86th consecutive month of growth.
A reading above 50% signals expansion, while anything below that suggests contraction.
The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index jumped 3.3% to 63.6%, the highest reading since February 2011. The New Orders Index registered 61.2%, 2.6% higher than January and the highest reading since August 2015.
The Employment Index inched ahead 0.5% to 55.2%, and the Prices Index fell 1.3% to 57.7%, indicating that prices increased, but at a slower rate, for the 11th month in a row.
The 16 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in February were:
- Management of Companies & Support Services;
- Other Services;
- Accommodation & Food Services;
- Health Care & Social Assistance;
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting;
- Professional, Scientific & Technical Services;
- Finance & Insurance;
- Public Administration;
- Educational Services;
- Wholesale Trade;
- Arts, Entertainment & Recreation;
- Retail Trade;
- Transportation & Warehousing; and
The two industries reporting contraction in February were:
- Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and
From the Department of Labor (DOL), word that initial applications for state unemployment benefits fell by 19,000 in the week ending February 25 to a seasonally adjusted 223,000. That's the lowest level for initial claims since March 31, 1973.
The level for the previous week was revised lower by 2,000 to 242,000.
The four-week moving average was down 6,250 from the previous week to 234,250 -- the lowest level since April 14, 1973.
The previous week's average was revised down from 241,000 to 240,500.
The complete report may be found on the DOL website.