Sept. 14, 2004--A new economic indicator released Monday showed that overall services revenue in the U.S. increased 5.4% in the second quarter of 2004.

Five days after announcing the introduction of the new indicator, the U.S. Census Bureau published the first data from the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS), which measures national revenue across three basic service sectors.

The report showed that information services revenue rose 4.4% in the second quarter of 2004 to $230.1 billion. Revenue from administrative and support services, as well as waste management and remediation services, totaled $121.9 billion, up 5.6% from the first quarter. Revenue from professional, scientific, and technical services posted the largest gain, rising 6.3% to $241.6 billion.

Together, the three sectors combined for $598.1 billion in revenue, up 5.4% from the previous quarter, which had posted a loss of 1.9% compared to the final quarter of 2003. According to the Census Bureau, the three sectors constitute approximately 15% of U.S. gross domestic product, with service industries in general accounting for nearly 55% of the nation's economic activity, excluding retail and wholesale trade.

The new indicator received positive early feedback from some small business interests.

"While so much attention has been focused on manufacturing, the growth in our economy has long depended on the service sector--about which we know relatively little," said William Dunkelberg, chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business, in a statement released by the Census Bureau. "The new service sector report represents a major improvement in the quality and quantity of information about a hugely important and growing part of our economy."

The QSS becomes the thirteenth economic indicator produced by the Census Bureau, and the first new indicator the agency has unveiled since the 1960s. Prior to the QSS, the bureau's only measurements of service industry output came from an annual service survey and economic censuses conducted every five years. The bureau said it plans to expand the QSS indicator by next year to incorporate service revenues from hospitals as well as nursing and residential care facilities.