US Service Sector Expands At Slower Rate In December

Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP, File
FILE - In this Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, file photo, Owensboro Municipal Utilities line workers Michael Atherton, from left, Sean Warren and Lee Broadley work to remove temporary line switches from power lines at the intersection over Ninth Street and J. R. Miller Boulevard in Owensboro, Ky. On Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, issues its index of non-manufacturing activity for December.

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.

-By Matt Ott, Associated Press

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