WASHINGTON – U.S. services companies grew at a faster pace in August as business activity and new orders rebounded.
The Institute for Supply Management said Thursday that its services index rose to 58.5 last month from 55.7 in July. Readings above 50 signal an expanding economy.
The services sector, where most Americans are employed, has now grown for 103 straight months, or more than eight years.
The index was boosted by monthly increases in business activity and new orders, both of which had cooled in July. The employment component of the index improved last month.
The survey that is the basis for the index found that 16 of 17 services sectors reported growth in August, led by construction, transportation, retail trade and educational services. Only one sector reported a decline: agriculture, forestry and fishing and hunting.
Companies in the survey were generally positive about the economy, although several cited risks of the tariffs pushed by the Trump administration on China and the European Union. Many services companies also are coping with labor shortages.
Overall, the companies responding to the survey "remain positive about business conditions and the economy," said Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM's services committee. He noted, however, "There's definitely much concern related to potential cost increases from tariffs."