The numbers: The U.S. economy grew at the slowest pace in five months in July, a pair of S&P surveys showed. The surveys also pointed to weaker conditions later in the year.
The S&P flash U.S. services-sector index fell to 52.4 from 54.4 in the prior month. That’s the lowest reading since February.
Most Americans are employed on the service side of the economy, in areas such as technology, healthcare, finance and hospitality.
The S&P U.S. manufacturing-sector index, meanwhile, rose to 49 from 46.3, but it has been negative for months.
The S&P Global surveys are among the first indicators each month to provide an assessment of the health of the economy. Any number above 50 signals expansion, while numbers below 50 point to contraction.
One caveat: The S&P Global surveys have been more negative this year than other indicators of the U.S. economy.
Key details: New orders, a sign of demand, rose slightly but were relatively soft. Hiring was also the weakest since January.
Prices continued to rise for both raw materials and labor.
“The stickiness of price pressures meanwhile remains a major concern,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global. “Further falls in the rate of inflation below 3% may prove elusive in the near term.”
Big picture: The large service side of the economy is keeping the U.S. forging ahead, but it might be losing some steam. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates again this week, and higher borrowing costs have trimmed the sails of the economy.
Manufacturers, for their part, are lagging well behind and arguably are already in a recession of sorts.
Not just in the U.S., either. Manufacturers are struggling even more in Europe and other parts of the world as consumers shift spending to services from goods.
A recession still appears far off, however. A new survey of business economists shows that 71% think a U.S. downturn is at least a year away.
Looking ahead: “July is seeing an unwelcome combination of slower economic growth, weaker job creation, gloomier business confidence and sticky inflation,” Williamson said. “Business optimism about the year-ahead outlook has deteriorated sharply to the lowest seen so far this year.”