Service Sector

DEFINITION of 'Service Sector'

The portion of the economy that produces intangible goods. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the service sector primarily consists of truck transportation, messenger services and warehousing; information sector services; securities, commodities and other financial investment services; rental and leasing services; professional, scientific and technical services; administrative and support services; waste management and remediation; health care and social assistance; and arts, entertainment and recreation services.


Individuals employed in this sector produce services rather than products. Examples of service sector jobs include housekeeping, psychotherapy, tax preparation, guided tours, nursing and teaching. By contrast, individuals employed in the industrial/manufacturing sector might produce goods such as cars, clothing and toys.

BREAKING DOWN 'Service Sector'

Countries with primarily service-based economies are considered to be more advanced than countries with primarily industrial or agricultural economies. Examples of countries with a heavy emphasis on the service sector include the United States, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) monthly index provides a measure of the general state of business in the non-manufacturing sector. Because approximately two-thirds of U.S. economic activity resides in the service sector, the index is considered a measure of the country's overall economic health.

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