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Service-sector hiring in the US was solid at the end of 2016, according to two surveys released on Thursday.
Markit Economics reported a “robust rise” in service sector payrolls in December. Its purchasing manager’s index (PMI) came in at 53.9 for the month, topping economists’ forecasts.
A preliminary survey had put the index at 53.4 for December, lower than the reading of 54.6 in November. A PMI above 50 shows that the sector is still in expansion.
“Although losing a little momentum in December, the pace of business activity growth in the services and manufacturing sectors combined remained one of the strongest seen over the past year,” said Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at IHS Markit.
The services sector accounts for most job creation in the US and makes up about two-thirds of all economic output.
Separately, the Institute of Supply Management reported its non-manufacturing index at 57.2, unchanged from November, and beating the consensus forecast for 56.8. It was the highest reading for the index since October 2015.
Like Markit’s index, big gains were derived from the employment index, which increased 5.1 percentage points month-over-month to 58.2%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the December jobs report on Friday. Economists forecast that nonfarm payrolls increased by 180,000, according to Bloomberg.