Survey: US service firms grew more slowly in April

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service firms expanded at a slower pace in April than March, restrained by weaker growth in hiring and new orders.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity fell to 53.1 in April from 54.4 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report measures growth in industries that cover 90 percent of the work force, including retail, construction, health care and financial services.

Fourteen of the 18 industries reported expansion in April. But a measure of hiring fell from 53.3 in March to 52 last month, indicating fewer jobs added.

The survey conflicted with a government report that said service-sector hiring improved in April. The Labor Department said that those firms added 185,000 jobs last month, up from 139,000 in March.

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