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Employment Grows in Service Sector

December 3, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ The U.S. service sector expanded for the eighth straight month in November, amid the best employment performance since the spring of 2000, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Institute for Supply Management said that its index of business activity in the non-manufacturing sector stood at 60.1 in November, versus 64.7 in October and 63.3 in September.

While the overall rate of advancement in November was strong, it was nevertheless the slowest rate of expansion since May.

The non-manufacturing index is comprised mostly of services, which make up over two-thirds of total U.S. economic output.

Index readings above 50 indicate expansion of activity, while readings under that mark point to declining activity.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected that the gauge to hold essentially steady in November, at a reading of 64.5.

One of the report’s brightest spots came in hiring. The employment index continued to show better job market prospects, and stood at 54.9 in November, from 52.9 the month before and 49.1 in September.

The increase in the employment measure was the best since March 2000.

Meanwhile, ISM said that its new orders index pointed to continued growth at 60.1, albeit at a weaker pace relative to the 64.4 seen in October and 59.9 in September.

The price index for November continued to point to an increase, standing at 58.0 after October’s 58.7.

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