US service sector expands at slower rate in December

Friday, January 5, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 1

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. services companies expanded at a slower pace in December for the second straight month.

The Institute for Supply Management says its services index slipped last month to 55.9 from 57.4 in November. That follows a 60.1 reading in October, which was fastest pace of growth in a dozen years. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. The services sector has reported growth for 96 consecutive months, a positive sign for the overall U.S. economy.

Measures of business activity and new orders also fell last month, but they still remain in positive territory. The employment index rose by 1 percentage point.

More than 70 percent of U.S. jobs comes from the service sector, so signs of continued expansion likely mean steady gains for the broader economy in the coming months.