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America’s service economy ended 2013 on a troubling note, according to data released this week from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM).

The ISM’s index dipped from 53.9 to 53 in November – still in growth territory but well below expectations (and the lowest increase in six months).  Compounding the disappointment was a slide in inventories (from 54 to 48) and a steep drop in new orders (from 56.4 to 49.4).

Also half of the industries serviced indicated contraction – hardly a ringing endorsement of the “breakthrough” year for the economy heralded by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Don’t fret, though …

“Despite the substantial decrease in the New Orders Index, respondents’ comments predominately reflect that business conditions are stable,” ISM’s official press release noted.

Hmmmm …

So … what’s the service economy’s chief concern?  If you guessed Obamacare, there’s a prize at the door for you.

“It is uncertain what impact the Affordable Healthcare Act will have on hiring and full-time status in 2014 as more companies are re-evaluating their healthcare benefits strategies for all positions,” one of the index’s respondents noted.