Jobs boost for US as service sector expands for 15 consecutive months

 
Julian Harris
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GROWTH in America’s service industries accelerated again last month, it was revealed yesterday.

On another strong day of data releases for the US recovery, the ISM non-manufacturing index unexpectedly jumped to 59.7, from 59.4 in January.

Meanwhile, unemployment claims continued to fall, while there was also positive news for productivity in the US labour market.

Initial jobless claims dropped by another 20,000 to 368,000 for the week ending 26 February, from a downwardly revised 388,000 the previous week.

Ongoing claims declined to 3.774m in the week ending 19 February, down from 3.833m the week before, as the jobs market showed signs of recovery.

Non-farm payrolls, announced today, could have increased by 250,000 according to Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics.

And the Labour Department confirmed that productivity was up 2.6 per cent in the final three months of the year, up from 2.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2010.

Economic activity in non-manufacturing areas has now grown for 15 straight months, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said.

Employment in the sector rose at an index level of 55.6 in February, up by 1.1 per cent on January.

Scores above 50 indicate economic growth.

US services got a boost from exports, according to the survey. The export orders index jumped to 56.5 from 53.5, while imports held steady.