Growth in the huge U.S. services sector rose in December, although employment declined slightly, according to a survey published Wednesday.

The Institute for Supply Management's (search) non-manufacturing index (search) rose to 63.1 in December from 61.3 in November, above Wall Street's median estimate of 61.0.

A number above 50 indicates growth in the sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of the U.S. economy.

The ISM survey's employment index eased slightly to 54.9 in December from 55.0.

"The service sector is still doing well," said Gary Thayer, chief economist at A.G. Edwards and Sons (search) in St. Louis, Missouri.

"The employment component was just a tad lower than what we saw in November so it's still a healthy number. It indicates that this larger part of the economy is still expanding and we'll probably see continued job growth."

The measure of new orders rose to 60.3 from 59.9 while the prices paid index rose to 71.4 from 71.0.

U.S. Treasuries prices showed little reaction to the data, with the benchmark 10-year note continuing to trade about 2/32 higher in price with a yield of 4.29 percent.