ISM non-manufacturing index hits 59.9 in January, vs. 56.5 estimate

  • The Institute of Supply Management's measure of non-manufacturing firms reached 59.9 in January.
  • It was forecast to tick up to just 56.5.
  • The service sector has seen continued expansion for 96 consecutive months.
The chef at Brookland's Finest Bar & Kitchen restaurant in Washington.
Kate Patterson | The Washington Post | Getty Images
The chef at Brookland's Finest Bar & Kitchen restaurant in Washington.

The rate of growth in the economy's service sector perked up in January after its pace eroded in the prior two months.

The Institute of Supply Management said its index of non-manufacturing activity hit 59.9 in January, well above the 56.5 expected by a survey of Reuters economists. Non-manufacturing economic activity had slipped to 55.9 in December.

While the index of 17 non-manufacturing industries, such as real estate and food services, showed slowing growth in the past two months, the service sector has still seen continued expansion for eight consecutive years.

In October, the ISM non-manufacturing survey recorded a 60.1 reading — the highest level since its debut in 2008.

A reading above 50 for the index indicates expansion in the service sector, and a reading below 50 signals contraction.