Service-sector takings flat in first quarter

Firms in the health and social service segment notched up the strongest performance in the first quarter, going by the service business receipts index released by the Statistics Department yesterday.

The segment posted a 5.1 per cent rise in the first three months of this year, compared with the same quarter a year earlier - continuing to buck a trend where financial firms and insurers usually do particularly well.

Except for the previous quarter, the latter segment has usually been the strongest performer, but it saw takings inch up only 0.9 per cent in the latest period.

Overall, growth in the service industry was almost flat in the first three months of this year, with takings rising just 0.3 per cent over the same quarter a year earlier.

However, most segments fared better.

The data comes from the Business Receipts Index for the service industries, which excludes wholesale and retail trade, and accommodation and food services. It is compiled on a quarterly basis.

Business or operating receipts refer to the income earned from business operations, such as income from sale of goods or commission fees.

Receipts in the information and communications segment increased 1.7 per cent, while the education and business service segments also enjoyed higher income than the year before. Recreation and personal services suffered the biggest drop, sliding 9.9 per cent from a year earlier, while the transport and storage segment slipped 0.8 per cent.

The data also showed first-quarter service takings slid 3.8 per cent over the fourth quarter of last year. The quarter-on-quarter data, not adjusted for seasonal factors, showed a dip in most service industries.

The education service industry was the strongest performer in quarter-on-quarter terms, with takings rising 5.6 per cent .

The only other increase was from firms in the health and social service segment, up 2.9 per cent.

However, the business service, transport and storage, recreation and personal service, information and communications, and financial and insurance segments all registered lower takings in the first quarter, compared with the preceding three months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'Service-sector takings flat in first quarter'. Print Edition | Subscribe