Businesses other than factories in the Philadelphia region this month report increased activity and more full-time workers than a month ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said Tuesday.
But the business climate is not all robust. The Philly Fed's latest Nonmanufacturing Business Outlook Survey measures for new orders, sales and revenues, though positive, were little changed over November readings.
The report came on the same day that the government said the U.S. economy grew at a surprising 5 percent annual rate last quarter, the fastest since 2003.
The nonmanufacturing survey, covering economic activity in Eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and Delaware through Dec. 18, follows last week's Philly Fed report on factory activity in the region. That survey said manufacturers remained optimistic about growth, but their optimism was fading somewhat compared with earlier months.
The new survey's widest measure for current nonmanufacturing activity rose 6 points in December, to 47.5 - its highest reading since June. The bank said 65 percent of respondents reported increasing activity, up from 56 percent a month earlier.
Demand for services remained positive, but edged down. About one-third of the respondents reported increases to full-time staff levels, the ban said, while part-time employment fell for the third consecutive month.
The survey covers nonmanufacturing sectors - except natural resources and mining - with the greatest representation being among professional and business services, financial activities, and the health and education services sectors, the bank said.
- Reid Kanaley