An earlier version of this article misstated the decline in the ISM index. The article has been corrected.
The service-oriented companies where most Americans work grew at a slightly slower but still rapid pace in May, signaling steady-as-she-goes for the U.S. economy.
The Institute for Supply Management on Monday said its nonmanufacturing index fell 0.6 points to 56.9% in May. Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions, however.
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The index is compiled from a survey of executives who order raw materials and other supplies for their companies. The gauge tends to rise or fall in tandem with the health of the economy.
“The majority of respondents’ comments continue to indicate optimism about business conditions and the overall economy,” said Anthony Nieves, who runs the ISM service index.
New orders fell last month, no surprise after they hit a 12-year high in April.
Yet the operation tempo of services-style companies — restaurants, financial firms, technology outfits and the like — remained high.
“Strong market conditions bring a renewed confidence,” said an executive at a transportation and warehousing provider.
The production gauge stood at 60.7% in May, just a bit lower compared with April. Sixteen of the 17 industries tracked by the ISM expanded last month. The sole exception: educational services as the school year drew to a close.
An index that measures employment, meanwhile, jumped 6.4 points to 57.8% — close to a two-year high.
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