WASHINGTON – U.S. services companies grew last month at the slowest pace in more than six years, a private survey finds.
The Institute for Supply Management says its services index fell to 51.4 last month from 55.5 in July. The August reading was the lowest since February 2010. Still, anything above 50 signals growth, and services firms have now expanded for 79 straight months.
New orders and hiring grew more slowly in August. Export orders fell.
The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ the vast majority of workers, including retail, construction, health care and financial companies.
Last Friday, the government reported that employers added a modest 151,000 jobs in August. Of those, almost all — 150,000 — were generated by private services firms.