The Institute of Supply Management (ISM) has now released the May Services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI). The headline Composite Index is at percent 64, up 1.3 from 62.7 last month and an all-time high. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 63 percent.

Here is the report summary:

(Tempe, Arizona) — Economic activity in the services sector grew in May for the 12th month in a row, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Services ISM® Report On Business®.

The report was issued today by Anthony Nieves, CPSM, C.P.M., A.P.P., CFPM, Chair of the Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) Services Business Survey Committee: “The Services PMI® reached another all-time high in May, registering 64 percent, which is 1.3 percentage points higher than April’s reading of 62.7 percent. The previous record high was 63.7 percent in March. The May reading indicates the 12th straight month of growth for the services sector, which has expanded for all but two of the last 136 months.

“The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 70.4 percent, up 4.3 percentage points from April’s reading of 66.1 percent. (Supplier Deliveries is the only ISM® Report On Business® index that is inversed; a reading of above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, which is typical as the economy improves and customer demand increases.) The Prices Index registered 80.6 percent, which is 3.8 percentage points higher than the April reading of 76.8 percent, indicating that prices increased in May, and at a faster rate. The last time the Prices Index was this elevated was when it registered 77.4 percent in July 2008; the all-time high is 83.5 percent in September 2005.

“According to the Services PMI®, all 18 services industries reported growth. The composite index indicated growth for the 12th consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May 2020. There was continued growth in the services sector in May. The rate of expansion is very strong, as businesses have reopened and production capacity has increased. However, some capacity constraints, material shortages, weather-related delays, and challenges in logistics and employment resources continue,” says Nieves. [Source]

Unlike its much older kin, the ISM Manufacturing Series, there is relatively little history for ISM's Non-Manufacturing data, especially for the headline Composite Index, which dates from 2008. The chart below shows the Non-Manufacturing Composite. We have only a single recession to gauge is behavior as a business cycle indicator.

The more interesting and useful subcomponent is the Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index. The latest data point at 64 percent is up 1.3 from a seasonally adjusted 62.7 the previous month and at an all-time high.

ISM Services

For a diffusion index, this can be an extremely volatile indicator, hence the addition of a six-month moving average to help us visualize the short-term trends.

Theoretically, this indicator should become more useful as the time frame of its coverage expands. Manufacturing may be a more sensitive barometer than Non-Manufacturing activity, but we are increasingly a services-oriented economy, which explains our intention to keep this series on the radar.

Here is a table showing the trend in the underlying components.

Here is a link to our coverage of the latest ISM Manufacturing report.


We will publish our next ISM Non-Manufacturing report on July 6.

Read more updates by Jill Mislinski