Service sector activity "expanded in November, although employment remained soft," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond service-sector activity survey, released Tuesday.

Overall, the service sector revenues index climbed to 7 in November, from 3 in October, while the number of employees index dropped to negative 6 from negative 1, the average wage index dipped to 9 from 11, and the expected product demand during the next six months index grew to 7 from 6.

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 gained to 14 from 5 in October, the number of employees index slipped to negative 13 from negative 12, while the average wages index jumped to 8 from 2. The inventories index decreased to negative 1 from positive 12, while the big-ticket sales index widened to negative 14 from negative 5. The shopper traffic index jumped to positive 23 from negative 11, while expected product demand during the next six months fell to negative 3 from positive 5.

For services firms excluding retail, the revenues index was 4 compared to zero last month, while the number of employees index dropped to negative 6 from positive 1, and the average wage index slid to 7 from 10. The expected product demand during the next six months index rose to 9 from 6.

The current price trend for the two sectors together grew to 1.16 from 1.07, while slowing to 1.84 from 1.88 for retail alone and climbing to 1.01 from 0.97 for services, excluding retail.

The expected price trend index for the two sectors together rose to 1.68 in November from 1.41 in October, while increasing to 2.43 from 1.74 for retail alone and jumping to 1.53 from 1.39 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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