Service sector activity “improved notably in April,” rising to its best level since August 2015, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index grew to 22 from 9, while the number of employees index rose to 21 from 17, the average wage index gained to 34 from 23, and the expected product demand during the next six months index increased to 49 from 34.

The indexes are the percentage of responding firms reporting increase, less the percentage reporting a decrease.

By sector, the retail area excluding services firms reported the sales revenues index soared to 48 from 13, the number of employees index grew to 30 from 16, while the average wages index gained to 55 from 38. The inventories index slid to 24 from 29, while the big-ticket sales index surged to 41 from 14. The shopper traffic index rebounded to 27 from 18, while expected product demand during the next six months jumped to 96 from 59.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 18 compared with 8 last month, while the number of employees index increased to 20 from 17, and the average wage index gained to 31 from 21. The expected product demand during the next six months index surged to 42 from 29.

The current price trend for the two sectors together rose to 1.57 from 1.50, while declining to 2.04 from 2.50 for retail alone and rising to 1.50 from 1.32 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together decreased to 1.67 in April from 1.87 in March, while falling to 1.62 from 2.92 for retail alone and growing to 1.68 from 1.67 from for services, excluding retail.

All firms surveyed are located within the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which includes the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and most of West Virginia.

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Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel

Gary Siegel has been at The Bond Buyer since 1989, currently covering economic indicators and the Federal Reserve system.