ISM

Non-manufacturing Report On Business for April 2020

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NMI® at 41.8%

Business Activity Index at 26%
New Orders Index at 32.9%
Employment Index at 30%
Supplier Deliveries Index at 78.3%

(Tempe, Arizona) — Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector contracted in April for the first time since December 2009, ending a 122-month period of growth, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing 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®) Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee: “The NMI® registered 41.8 percent, 10.7 percentage points lower than the March reading of 52.5 percent. This reading represents contraction in the non-manufacturing sector and is the NMI®’s lowest since March 2009 (40.1 percent). The Business Activity Index fell 22 percentage points from March’s figure, registering 26 percent — the lowest reading for that index since the debut of the Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business® in 1997. The New Orders Index registered 32.9 percent, 20 percentage points below the reading of 52.9 percent in March. The Employment Index decreased to 30 percent, 17 percentage points below the March reading of 47 percent.

“The Supplier Deliveries Index registered an all-time high of 78.3 percent, up 16.2 percentage points from the March reading of 62.1 percent, which limited the decrease in the composite NMI®. The Supplier Deliveries Index is one of four equally weighted subindexes that directly factor into the NMI®, along with Business Activity, New Orders and Employment. 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. However, the combined 25.9-percentage point increase in March and April was primarily a product of supply problems related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Prices Index figure of 55.1 percent is 5.1 percentage points higher than the March reading of 50 percent, indicating that prices increased in April. According to the NMI®, two non-manufacturing industries reported growth. The non-manufacturing sector composite index indicated contraction for the first time since December 2009, when the NMI® was at 49.7 percent. Respondents are concerned about the continuing coronavirus impacts on the supply chain, operational capacity, human resources and finances, as well as the uncertain timelines for the resumption of business and a return to normality.”
INDUSTRY PERFORMANCE

The two non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in April are: Public Administration; and Finance & Insurance. The 16 industries reporting a decrease in April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Retail Trade; Other Services; Wholesale Trade; Construction; Transportation & Warehousing; Mining; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Information; Accommodation & Food Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Educational Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Utilities; and Health Care & Social Assistance.
WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING

“General uncertainty over ramp-up timeline post COVID-19.” (Accommodation & Food Services)
“The COVID-19 situation has created significant challenges for the agricultural sectors. Milk prices have declined 29 percent in a few weeks. Milk is being dumped on farms because of the loss of markets. Cattle prices are down 28 percent, pork prices down 24 percent, [and] all agriculture sectors are facing significant price declines. Our agriculture economy is challenged, with poultry, pork, and beef processing plants closed due to COVID-19 cases or impaired due to employees afraid to work side-by-side with other employees. Farmers cannot sell fat cattle locally due to processing plant shutdowns.” (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting)
“COVID-19 pandemic has forced our business to close as of March 17, 2020. We do not have a re-opening date yet; our purchasing activity has been greatly reduced due to the current business environment.” (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)
“COVID-19 is altering the operation, supply chain and sales process of home-building. Stay-at-home orders have hampered business in residential construction. As ours has been deemed an essential industry, we continue to navigate changing guidelines and restrictions on a daily basis.” (Construction)
“The university abruptly transitioned from students on campus to remote teaching for the spring quarter; however, the number of students registered for the quarter has remained consistent with previous years. Overall, activity dropped 17 percent compared to February and 31 percent compared to March 2019.” (Educational Services)
“Due to increased loans from [the federal] stimulus package, [we are] seeing an increase in new business.” (Finance & Insurance)
“COVID-19 has halted much of our standard work to procure items for our organization. It’s halted much of the world, except for health care. Distributors were woefully unprepared for the spread of this pandemic, and many health-care systems/providers depend on them for inventory planning and availability. Combine that with the global [surgical] gown recall just before the pandemic struck — and isolation masks are created from the same material as isolation gowns — and you had a perfect storm for chaos across the supply chain. It will be very hard for major medical distributors who did not manage their core customers well to recover from both the gown recall and the pandemic. It also provided some insight into whether or not the distributor partners were actually skilled at inventory planning and movement. I believe that the healthcare supply chain landscape will change dramatically after this.” (Health Care & Social Assistance)
“The oil exploration sector is very weak, with the record low price of oil and the country’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 threat. We are hopeful for a bump in activity once the country starts to reopen.” (Management of Companies & Support Services)
“New challenges working from home and getting inventory to the retail locations.” (Retail Trade)
“As an essential business, we have remained open during the month. A significant number of our customers are closed (i.e. schools) and other have substantially reduced their buying (i.e. hotels, office building). Sales of janitorial, sanitation, and paper products [have] increased across all business lines, but other categories are greatly reduced. Overall, reduction in sales of 20 percent to 30 percent.” (Wholesale Trade)

ISM® NON-MANUFACTURING SURVEY RESULTS AT A GLANCE COMPARISON OF ISM® NON-MANUFACTURING AND ISM® MANUFACTURING SURVEYS*
April 2020
Non-Manufacturing Manufacturing
Index Series Index Apr Series Index Mar Percent Point Change Direction Rate of Change Trend** (Months) Series Index Apr Series Index Mar Percent Point Change
NMI®/ PMI® 41.8 52.5 -10.7 Contracting From Growing 1 41.5 49.1 -7.6
Business Activity/ Production 26.0 48.0 -22.0 Contracting Faster 2 27.5 47.7 -20.2
New Orders 32.9 52.9 -20.0 Contracting From Growing 1 27.1 42.2 -15.1
Employment 30.0 47.0 -17.0 Contracting Faster 2 27.5 43.8 -16.3
Supplier Deliveries 78.3 62.1 +16.2 Slowing Faster 11 76.0 65.0 +11.0
Inventories 46.9 41.5 +5.4 Contracting Slower 2 49.7 46.9 +2.8
Prices 55.1 50.0 +5.1 Increasing From Unchanged 1 35.3 37.4 -2.1
Backlog of Orders 47.7 55.0 -7.3 Contracting From Growing 1 37.8 45.9 -8.1
New Export Orders 36.3 45.9 -9.6 Contracting Faster 2 35.3 46.6 -11.3
Imports 49.3 40.2 +9.1 Contracting Slower 2 42.7 42.1 +0.6
Inventory Sentiment 62.6 47.8 +14.8 Too High From Too Low 1 N/A N/A N/A
Customers’ Inventories N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 48.8 43.4 +5.4
Overall Economy Contracting From Growing 1
Non-Manufacturing Sector Contracting From Growing 1
*Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business® data is seasonally adjusted for the Business Activity, New Orders, Prices and Employment indexes. Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business® data is seasonally adjusted for New Orders, Production, Employment and Inventory indexes.
**Number of months moving in current direction.
Commodities reported up/down in price and in short supply

Commodities Up in Price

Air Freight; Cleaning Products (2); Disinfectants; Gloves (2); Hand Sanitizer (2); Isopropyl Alcohol; Janitorial Supplies; Medical Services; Medical Supplies (3); Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (3); PPE — Masks (2); Surgical Gowns (2); and Ventilators.

Commodities Down in Price

Cheese; Diesel Fuel (4); Fuel (2); Gasoline (3); Pork; and Steel Products (2).

Commodities in Short Supply

Alcohol; Cleaning Products (2); Cleaning Supplies (2); Computer Hardware; Disinfectants (2); Face Shields; Gloves; Hand Sanitizer (2); Janitorial Supplies; Labor — Construction; Labor — Temporary (10); Medical Supplies (3); Nasal Swabs; N95 Masks (2); Paper Products (2); Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (3); PPE — Coveralls (2); PPE — Gowns; PPE — Masks (2); Surgical Masks (3); Safety Equipment; Sanitary Supplies; Toilet Paper (2); and Viral Transport Media.

Note: The number of consecutive months the commodity is listed is indicated after each item.
APRIL 2020 Non-Manufacturing Index Summaries
NMI®

In April, the NMI® registered 41.8 percent, 10.7 percentage points lower than March’s figure of 52.5 percent. The reading is the NMI®’s lowest since March 2009 (40.1 percent) and indicates non-manufacturing sector contraction after 122 consecutive months of growth. A reading above 50 percent indicates the non-manufacturing sector economy is generally expanding; below 50 percent indicates the non-manufacturing sector is generally contracting.

An NMI® above 48.5 percent, over time, generally indicates an expansion of the overall economy. Therefore, the April NMI® indicates contraction for the first time after 128 consecutive months of expansion. Nieves says, “The past relationship between the NMI® and the overall economy indicates that the NMI® for April (41.8 percent) corresponds to a 2.3-percent decrease in real gross domestic product (GDP) on an annualized basis.”
NMI® History
Month NMI®
Apr 2020 41.8
Mar 2020 52.5
Feb 2020 57.3
Jan 2020 55.5
Dec 2019 54.9
Nov 2019 53.9
Month NMI®
Oct 2019 54.4
Sep 2019 53.5
Aug 2019 56.0
Jul 2019 54.8
Jun 2019 55.4
May 2019 56.3
Average for 12 months – 53.9
High – 57.3
Low – 41.8
Business Activity

ISM®’s Business Activity Index registered 26 percent in April, a decrease of 22 percentage points from the March reading of 48 percent. This represents contraction for the second consecutive month and is the lowest Business Activity Index reading since the NMI®’s inception in 1997. Only one industry (Finance & Insurance) reported an increase in business activity. Comments from respondents include: “Fewer resources to do work” and “All non-essential procedures have been cancelled or delayed.”

The 17 industries reporting a decrease in business activity for the month of April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Transportation & Warehousing; Retail Trade; Other Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Educational Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Wholesale Trade; Construction; Utilities; Mining; Health Care & Social Assistance; Information; Accommodation & Food Services; and Public Administration.
Business Activity % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 20.9 15.1 64.0 26.0
Mar 2020 26.3 43.1 30.6 48.0
Feb 2020 34.0 56.7 9.2 57.8
Jan 2020 29.7 53.0 17.3 60.9
New Orders

ISM®’s Non-Manufacturing New Orders Index registered 32.9 percent, a decrease of 20 percentage points from the March reading of 52.9 percent. New orders contracted for the first time after 128 consecutive months of expansion. Comments from respondents include: “No new orders booked. Activity level is pretty high, [and we’re] trying to figure how to do business remotely” and “Core business activities at a virtual standstill.”

The two industries reporting growth of new orders in April are: Public Administration; and Finance & Insurance. The 16 industries reporting contraction in April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Retail Trade; Mining; Utilities; Wholesale Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Educational Services; Other Services; Construction; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Information; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Accommodation & Food Services; and Health Care & Social Assistance.
New Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 26.7 17.4 55.9 32.9
Mar 2020 30.4 45.6 23.9 52.9
Feb 2020 39.6 52.3 8.0 63.1
Jan 2020 26.2 51.2 22.7 56.2
Employment

Employment activity in the non-manufacturing sector contracted in April for the second month in a row following 72 consecutive months of growth. ISM®’s Non-Manufacturing Employment Index registered 30 percent, down 17 percentage points from the March reading of 47 percent. No industry reported an increase in employment, and all 18 industries reported decreased employment. Comments from respondents include: “Furloughs from COVID-19” and “Employees flexing schedules and furloughed due to decrease in volume.”

All 18 industries — listed in order — reported a reduction in employment in April: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Other Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Health Care & Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Construction; Transportation & Warehousing; Accommodation & Food Services; Wholesale Trade; Information; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Educational Services; Mining; Public Administration; Finance & Insurance; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; and Utilities.
Employment % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 5.8 47.6 46.6 30.0
Mar 2020 8.9 76.3 14.7 47.0
Feb 2020 20.2 67.5 12.3 55.6
Jan 2020 16.9 69.4 13.7 53.1
Supplier Deliveries

The Supplier Deliveries Index registered 78.3 percent, which is 16.2 percentage points higher than the 62.1 percent reported in March. This is the highest reading since the 1997 inception of the Non-Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®. A reading above 50 percent indicates slower deliveries, while a reading below 50 percent indicates faster deliveries. Comments from respondents include: “Supplier deliveries are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Deliveries are slipping due to slower production windows” and “Increased demand on delivery resources.”

All 18 industries reported slower deliveries in April; they are listed in order: Management of Companies & Support Services; Utilities; Other Services; Health Care & Social Assistance; Transportation & Warehousing; Educational Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Retail Trade; Public Administration; Wholesale Trade; Mining; Finance & Insurance; Construction; Information; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and Accommodation & Food Services.
Supplier Deliveries % Slower % Same % Faster Index
Apr 2020 58.3 39.9 1.8 78.3
Mar 2020 31.3 61.6 7.1 62.1
Feb 2020 10.4 84.0 5.6 52.4
Jan 2020 11.3 80.9 7.8 51.7
Inventories

The Inventories Index contracted in April, registering 46.9 percent, a 5.4-percentage point increase from the 41.5 percent reported in March. Of the total respondents in April, 33.9 percent indicated they do not have inventories or do not measure them. Comments from respondents include: “Blanket or standing orders postponed; ordering on demand” and “Working through excess stock.”

The six industries reporting an increase in inventories in April — listed in order — are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Utilities; Health Care & Social Assistance; Retail Trade; Finance & Insurance; and Information. The 10 industries reporting a decrease in inventories in April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Educational Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Construction; Transportation & Warehousing; Accommodation & Food Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Mining; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Wholesale Trade.
Inventories % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 29.1 35.6 35.3 46.9
Mar 2020 20.2 42.8 37.1 41.5
Feb 2020 21.6 64.6 13.8 53.9
Jan 2020 19.8 53.5 26.8 46.5
Prices

Prices paid by non-manufacturing organizations for materials and services increased in April, with the index registering 55.1 percent. This is 5.1 percentage points higher than the 50 percent reported in March.

The 10 non-manufacturing industries that reported an increase in prices paid during the month of April — listed in order — are: Health Care & Social Assistance; Public Administration; Educational Services; Utilities; Other Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Information; Finance & Insurance; and Wholesale Trade. The four industries that reported a decrease in prices in April are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Mining; Construction; and Accommodation & Food Services.
Prices % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 31.3 52.3 16.3 55.1
Mar 2020 18.0 67.9 14.1 50.0
Feb 2020 11.1 80.4 8.5 50.8
Jan 2020 15.6 79.7 4.7 55.5
NOTE: Commodities reported as up in price and down in price are listed in the commodities section of this report.
Backlog of Orders

ISM®’s Non-Manufacturing Backlog of Orders Index contracted in April after two consecutive months of growth. The index registered 47.7 percent; 7.3 percentage points lower than the 55 percent reported in March. This is the largest one-month drop since September 2007, when the index decreased by 11.6 percentage points. Of the total respondents in April, 40.8 percent indicated they do not measure backlog of orders.

The three industries reporting an increase in order backlogs in April are: Health Care & Social Assistance; Accommodation & Food Services; and Public Administration. The 10 industries that reported a decrease in backlogs in April — listed in order — are: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Mining; Educational Services; Other Services; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Construction; Information; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Utilities; and Wholesale Trade.
Backlog of Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 30.1 35.1 34.7 47.7
Mar 2020 22.5 65.1 12.4 55.0
Feb 2020 21.0 64.3 14.7 53.2
Jan 2020 12.7 65.7 21.7 45.5
New Export Orders

Orders and requests for services and other non-manufacturing activities to be provided outside of the U.S. by domestically based companies contracted in April for the second consecutive month. The New Export Orders Index registered 36.3 percent in April, which is 9.6 percentage points lower than the 45.9 percent reported in March. This is the index’s lowest reading since November 2008 (34.5 percent). Of the total respondents in April, 68.4 percent indicated they either do not perform, or do not separately measure, orders for work outside of the U.S.

The three industries reporting an increase in new export orders in April are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Health Care & Social Assistance; and Public Administration. The 14 industries that reported a decrease in exports in April — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Utilities; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Educational Services; Mining; Other Services; Wholesale Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Transportation & Warehousing; Management of Companies & Support Services; Construction; Information; and Finance & Insurance.
New Export Orders % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 18.1 36.4 45.5 36.3
Mar 2020 7.8 76.3 15.9 45.9
Feb 2020 21.1 69.0 9.9 55.6
Jan 2020 8.4 83.4 8.2 50.1
Imports

The Imports Index contracted for the sixth time in the past eight months, as the index registered 49.3 percent in April, 9.1 percentage points higher than March’s figure of 40.2 percent. After its highest one-month percentage-point decrease (12.4) ever in March, the Imports Index’s 9.1-percentage point increase is the biggest since February 2016. Fifty-five percent of respondents reported that they do not use, or do not track the use of, imported materials.

The five industries reporting an increase in imports for the month of April are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Health Care & Social Assistance; Transportation & Warehousing; Educational Services; and Public Administration. The eight industries that reported a decrease in imports in April — listed in order — are: Accommodation & Food Services; Construction; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Mining; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; Information; Management of Companies & Support Services; and Wholesale Trade.
Imports % Higher % Same % Lower Index
Apr 2020 26.4 45.8 27.8 49.3
Mar 2020 5.2 69.9 24.9 40.2
Feb 2020 13.0 79.0 7.9 52.6
Jan 2020 17.2 75.8 7.0 55.1
Inventory Sentiment

The ISM® Non-Manufacturing Inventory Sentiment Index in April registered 62.6 percent, which is 14.8 percentage points higher than the 47.8-percent reading in March. This is the index’s highest reading since July 2017 and its largest single-month increase ever. This indicates that respondents believe their inventories are too high.

The 11 industries reporting sentiment that their inventories were too high in April — listed in order — are: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Retail Trade; Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting; Real Estate, Rental & Leasing; Wholesale Trade; Other Services; Management of Companies & Support Services; Construction; Mining; Information; and Utilities. The four industries reporting a feeling that their inventories were too low in April are: Educational Services; Public Administration; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Health Care & Social Assistance.
Inventory Sentiment % Too High % About Right % Too Low Index
Apr 2020 39.9 45.3 14.8 62.6
Mar 2020 18.0 59.6 22.4 47.8
Feb 2020 23.2 72.1 4.7 59.3
Jan 2020 14.4 80.9 4.7 54.9