Afternoon Coffee: Services PMI grows for 9th consecutive month; New unemployment claims bump higher; Spend Friends podcast returns next week

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Economic activity in the services sector continued to grow in February, according to the latest Services ISM Report on Business. The services PMI — formerly known as the Non-Manufacturing NMI — was 55.3% last month, according to the report.

The February number was 3.4 percentage points lower than the January rate of 58.7%. But February’s reading still represents growth in the services sector because any number above 50 indicates expansion. The number represents the ninth straight month of growth after a contraction in the spring because of the Covid crisis.

“The composite index indicated growth for the ninth consecutive month after a two-month contraction in April and May,” Anthony Nieves, the Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee, said in a press release. “There was a pullback in the rate of growth in the services sector in February. Respondents are mostly optimistic about business recovery and the economy. Production-capacity constraints, material shortages and challenges in logistics and human resources are impacting the supply chain.”

First-time unemployment claims register 745,000 last week

The Labor Department reported Thursday that first-time unemployment claims bumped higher last week to 745,000, according to the Associated Press.

The number is a sign that employers continue to cut jobs despite the recent drop in confirmed COVID-19 infections and evidence that the economy is improving. Although the pace of layoffs has eased since the start of the year, they remain high for historical standards. Before the virus hobbled the US economy about a year ago, applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any week, the article said.

“The source of all labor market damage continues to be COVID-19,” AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at Indeed Hiring Lab, told the AP. “Increased vaccine distribution is promising, since the public health situation must improve for there to be a full economic recovery. When we completely return to ‘normal’ is still unknown.”

Spend Friends video podcast returns next week

On Tuesday, the Spend Friends video podcast will return for more fruitful procurement discussion and will welcome special guest Steve Hollis, co-Owner of PPI Corp, which makes medical devices and offers consulting.

Spend Friends is a monthly talk hosted by Bill Michels, the VP of Operations — Americas at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) USA, and Pierre Mitchell, Spend Matters’ Chief Research Officer. Its goal is to focus on all procurement matters under the sun, like spend management, supply chain and other topics.

Hollis specializes in creating a collaborative work culture that can sustain high levels of innovation. Hear how he harnesses the powerful 'triad' of people, process and technology.

To attend the live March 9 recording, visit the podcast registration page to sign up for the fourth episode.

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