By John S. McClenahen As the rate of growth among U.S. manufacturers slowed in October, growth among service providers and other non-manufacturers was picking up, according to data released Nov. 3 by the Tempe, Ariz.-based Institute for Supply Management (ISM). ISM's business activity index for non-manufacturing in October was 59.8%, 3.1 percentage points higher than September's 56.7% and the fastest rate of increase since July. A figure greater than 50% signals the non-manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy is expanding; a figure below 50% suggests it's contracting. During October, both new orders and employment among non-manufacturers grew faster than in September, while at 52.5% the backlog of orders index showed the same rate of increase as in September. Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Nov. 3 that new orders for manufactured goods decreased 0.4% to $368.3 billion in September. That was a tenth of a percentage point more than August's 0.3% decrease. In September, new orders for manufactured durables, generally big-ticket items designed to last at least three years, rose 0.2% to $195.9 billion, some $200 million higher than originally estimated. However, new orders for non-durables decreased 1% in September to $172.4 billion.