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Mark twain Institute For Your Information
Aug 5, 2003

Did you know that the monthly index of non-manufacturing economic activity shot up in July to its highest level since the survey began in July 1997?

The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) index of non-manufacturing activity, typically labeled a “services sector index” by the media because it largely reflects activity in the services sectors of the U.S. economy, registered an unexpectedly-high 65.1 in July, up from 63.2, the previous high recorded in October 1997. The July index compares to the June index of 60.6. The July New Orders Index increased from 57.5 percent in June to 66.9 percent in July. This reflects a significantly faster rate of increase of new orders in July compared to June.

The non-manufacturing industries reporting the highest rates of growth of business activity in July are construction; agriculture; finance and banking; retail trade; and communications. The only industry reporting contraction of business activity in July is health services.

Combined with the better-than-expected preliminary data for overall U.S. economic growth – GDP was reported to be up 2.4 percent in the second quarter – the July ISM seems to suggest that we may in fact have turned the economic corner. It should come as no surprise to those familiar with the key role of the services sector in the U.S. economy that services will lead the parade out of our economic malaise.

* The Mark Twain Institute, a Washington think tank dedicated to work on economic statistics. Mr. Freeman can be contacted at MTI@marktwaininstitute.org. The Institute’s web site is www.marktwaininstitute.org

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