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Non-manufacturing business activity down in March

The business activity index declined 5.91% since February but remained 0.51% above the level seen a year earlier.

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This chart shows the ISM non-manufacturing business activity index since 2005. Activity showed a slight decline in March.

Today, the Institute for Supply Management released their latest Non-Manufacturing Report on Business indicating that service related business activity declined notably in March with the business activity component dropping while the overall non-manufacturing index declined to 56.0 from 57.3 in February.

At 58.9 the business activity index declined 5.91% since February but remained 0.51% above the level seen a year earlier.

This month, service industry respondents are sounding very positive and optimistic for economic activity in 2012:

"2012 continues ahead of forecasted pace through March." (Wholesale Trade)

"February was a great month for auto sales — much better than expected. Forecasted sales volumes for the year are being revised upward." (Retail Trade)

"Positive year-over-year growth is finally being seen as customers' discretionary spend is up, and overall traffic is increasing as well. Increased investments in marketing promotions and advertising during the past few months have helped improve customer loyalty, evidenced by longer stays and increased frequency of visits." (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)

"Companies are seeking professional services to continue efficiencies while positioning for growth, when the top line comes back." (Professional, Scientific & Technical Services)

"We are starting to see the private sector building again; the money is starting to flow into construction." (Construction)

"Increasing demand for healthcare services while engaging in a more intense effort to reduce costs universally. [We are doing this] prior to implementation of healthcare reform, which is expected to dramatically reduce revenue by approximately 25 percent." (Health Care & Social Assistance)

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