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U.S. Non-Manufacturing Grows More Slowly

Confirming the U.S. economic slowdown is relatively widespread, the non-manufacturing sector of the economy, like the manufacturing sector, grew more slowly in April than in March, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported on May 4. It's business activity index for non-manufacturing was 61.7% in April, down 1.4 percentage points from March's 63.1. An index figure above 50% indicates the non-manufacturing sector is expanding; a figure below 50% signals that it is contracting.

Within the non-manufacturing sector -- which includes construction, utilities, mining, finance and business services -- both new orders (down 3.3 percentage points at 58.8%) and employment (down 3.8 percentage points at 53.3%) slowed during April.

"While both of these key indicators decreased compared to March, they are still both at relatively high levels historically," says Ralph G. Kauffman, chair of ISM's non-manufacturing business survey committee and coordinator of the supply chain management program at the University of Houston -- Downtown. "This indicates business in the non-manufacturing sector [continued] at a strong pace in April, but at a lower rate of increase."

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