Unlike manufacturing, which grew more slowly in August than in July, the non-manufacturing sector of the U.S. picked up the pace last month. The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) business activity index for non-manufacturing advanced 2.2 percentage points in August, reaching 57%. A figure above 50% indicates that sector is expanding; a figure below 50% signals the sector is contracting.
August was the 41st consecutive month of growth for the non-manufacturing sector, and 11 of the 18 industries that ISM classifies as non-manufacturing reported increased activity last month. Among the industries reporting growth in August were transportation and warehousing, utilities, construction, and finance and insurance.
Nevertheless, "prices, fuel expenses, energy costs and interest rates remain areas of concern," says Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM's non-manufacturing business survey committee and senior vice president for supply management at Hilton Hotels Corp.