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Fifth District Survey of Service Sector Activity

March 24, 2020

The Fifth District service providers reported little growth in March, according to the most recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The revenues index dropped from 26 in February to 1 in March, its largest one-month decline since February 2003. Meanwhile, the indexes for demand and local business conditions both registered their largest one-month decreases on record. Survey respondents were pessimistic, expecting business conditions to worsen in the next six months.

Survey results suggest that employment growth weakened in March, although the index remained positive. Wage growth remained solid, but the average workweek fell, and employers had difficulty finding workers with the necessary skills. Participants expected this struggle to persist in the near future.

The average growth rates of both prices paid and prices received by responding firms increased in March, as growth of prices paid continued to outpace that of prices received. Firms expected to see a drop in both growth rates in the coming months.

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