Service sector activity "grew at a moderate pace in September," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index crept to 15 in September, from 14 in August, while the number of employees index increased to 7 from 1, the average wage index gained to 19 from 13, and the expected product demand during the next six months index slipped to 16 from 19.

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 surged to positive 8 from negative 15 in August, the number of employees index improved to negative 5 from negative 10, while the average wages index climbed to 15 from 12. The inventories index improved to zero from negative 9, while the big-ticket sales index rose to positive 12 from negative 6. The shopper traffic index narrowed to negative 11 from negative 17, while expected product demand during the next six months recovered to positive 3 from negative 13.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 16 compared with 19 last month, while the number of employees index rose to 6 from 3, and the average wage index gained to 17 from 13. The expected product demand during the next six months index decreased to 17 from 25.

The current price trend for the two sectors together grew to 1.45 from 1.00, while gaining to 1.76 from 1.19 for retail alone and jumping to 1.37 from 0.97 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together rose to 1.69 in September from 1.46 in August, while increasing to 2.23 from 1.50 for retail alone and climbing to 1.62 from 1.49 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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