US service sector grows at slower rate in November

Friday, December 01, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 48
By JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer

U.S. services companies expanded at a slower pace in November, an unsurprising downshift after having grown in October at the fastest rate in a dozen years.

The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its services index slipped last month to 57.4 from 60.1 in October. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. The services sector has reported growth for 95 consecutive months, a positive sign for the overall U.S. economy.

Anthony Nieves, chair of ISM's non-manufacturing business committee survey, said that growth in recent months reflects an improved global economy and increasing consumer confidence.

Companies may see an additional boost from the corporate tax cuts being pushed by President Donald Trump and the Republican congressional majorities, said Katherine Judge, an economist at TD Bank. The Senate and House are beginning to reconcile the differences in their two tax bills for final passage.

"All told, this report confirms that the services side of the economy will continue to support strong growth," Judge said.

Measures of business activity, new orders employment fell last month, but they remained in positive territory.

There were 16 sectors reporting growth last month, with only agriculture saying activity had declined.

More than 70 percent of U.S. jobs comes from the service sector, so the signs of continued expansion point to steady gains for the broader economy in the coming months.