WASHINGTON — The nation's service sector expanded for a ninth straight month during September, a report showed Tuesday, with key employment numbers registering growth for the third time in the last five months.
The Institute for Supply Management's nonmanufacturing index climbed to 53.2%, up from 51.5% in August and coming in stronger than the 52.3% expected in a survey of economists.
Readings higher than 50% indicate expansion.
Of the indexes that compose the ISM poll, the business activity index slowed 1.6 percentage points in September to 52.8%, the new orders index climbed 2.5 percentage points to 54.9% and the employment index added 2 percentage points to 50.2%.
The employment index was of particular interest ahead of the government's pivotal report on unemployment, which is due Friday.
Although the index was stronger than forecast, it nonetheless indicates a slow-growing economy. September's reading of 53.2% was the second-worst reading since February.