U.S. services companies grew at a slower pace in October, although the economy appears poised to continue expanding.

The Institute for Supply Management says its services index jumped to 54.8 last month, down from 57.1 in September. Still, any reading above 50 signals growth.

New orders, production, and employment were positive in October, although each of these categories decelerated.

Services firms have now grown for 81 straight months. These companies account for the bulk of employers and economic activity, shielding many workers from the slowdown in manufacturing earlier this year.

The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ the vast majority of workers, including retail, health care and financial companies.