NEW YORK – Service sector activity “ strengthened in March,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index jumped to 26 in March, from 6 in February, while the number of employees index dipped to 15 from 16, the average wage index climbed to 18 from 16, and the expected product demand during the next six months index surged to 40 from 25.

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 33 in March from 7 in February, the number of employees index declined to 6 from 22, while the average wages index slumped to 15 from 38. The inventories index sank to 2 from 26, while the big-ticket sales index reversed to positive 7 from negative 7. The shopper traffic index climbed to 23 from 15, while expected product demand during the next six months rose to positive 13 from negative 5.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 26 compared to 4 last month, while the number of employees index increased to 18 from 16, and the average wage index doubled to 20 from 10. The expected product demand during the next six months index climbed to 50 from 31.

The current price trend for the two sectors together gained to 1.48 from 1.37, while rising to 2.27 from 1.89 for retail alone and growing to 1.31 from 1.25 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together grew to 2.01 in March from 1.88 in February, while increasing to 2.39 from 1.91 for retail alone and rising to 1.95 from 1.87 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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