17 Oct 2022

Employment, supply challenges curb growth in buoyant services sector

1:21 pm on 17 October 2022
small business, people and service concept - man or bartender serving customer at coffee shop

The latest index showed a drop off in trade for cafes and restaurants compared with the previous index. Photo: 123rf

Activity in the country's services sector remains strong but the rate of expansion slowed, as businesses continued to face employment and supply challenges.

The BNZ-Business New Zealand Performance of Services (PMI) Index fell 2.8 points to 55.8 in September - comfortably above its long term average.

A reading above 50 indicated the sector was in expansion.

BNZ senior economist Craig Ebert said unlike the manufacturing sector where new business remained just above expansion, the services sector was seeing new business well above trend.

Sales and activity levels also remained strong, but employment was flat and there were signs that supply remained an ongoing issue.

"Leading the way for the fourth month running [were businesses in] cultural, recreation and personal, with a huge 80.0. Relaxed Covid settings and the opened border are clearly reaping ongoing rewards. That said, the index on accommodation, cafes and restaurants slowed to 54.2, from 60.6.

"Notably, the 64.1 result for retail trade accorded with the big gain in September's electronic card transactions," Ebert said.

Higher scores indicated stronger levels of expansion.

Ebert said the strong PSI and the slower Performance of Manufacturing Index indicated solid economic growth for the three months ended September.

He said BNZ was forecasting gross domestic product growth of 1 percent in the quarter.

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