Service sector activity surged at record pace in May, NY Fed survey finds

The service sector in the New York region saw business activity rise at a “record-setting pace” in early May, according to a survey of business leaders released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Tuesday.

The survey’s headline business activity index increased by nine points to 38.8, but not all businesses saw gains.

“Just over half of respondents reported that conditions improved over the month, while 12% said that conditions worsened,” according to the report.

The New York area was hit hard by closures, reduced travel and the shift to remote working during the pandemic but the report showed that conditions are improving as the economy recovers.

Optimism for the future also surged in early May, with the index for future business activity and future employment both reaching record highs of 67.8 and 51.8, respectively.

Employment increased “modestly” and there was a “small pickup” in wage growth. The survey, which covers businesses in New York, New Jersey and southwestern Connecticut, was conducted between May 3 and May 10.