By John S. McClenahen Although the April manufacturing index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) still showed strong sectoral growth, the closely watched measure dipped from March. The April PMI index was 62.4%, down a tenth of a percentage point from March's 62.5%, as new orders fell and production rose, Tempe, Ariz.-based ISM reported on May 3. An index figure above 50% indicates the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy generally is growing; a figure below 50% signals it is contracting. April was the 11th consecutive month of growth in manufacturing, and "the PMI has now been above 60% for six consecutive months," notes Norbert J. Ore, chairperson of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee and group director for strategic sourcing and procurement at Georgia-Pacific Corp. Another positive sign: ISM's manufacturing employment index rose to 57.8% in April from 57% in March, its sixth straight monthly increase following a three-year decline.