A private trade group says the US service sector expanded in May for the fifth consecutive month, suggesting the economy will add more jobs and strengthen.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, says its service index was unchanged at 55.4 in May, the same level as April and March. A level above 50 indicates growth.
ISM also says its jobs measure increased, reversing 28 months of contraction.
The service sector is key for the economy as it accounts for about 80 percent of U.S. jobs excluding farmworkers. It includes jobs in such areas as healthcare, retail and financial services. The service sector has lagged the much smaller manufacturing sector in recovering from the recession.
Orders to U.S. factories posted a moderate increase in April as a big surge in demand for commercial aircraft offset weakness in a number of other areas.
The Commerce Department said that orders for manufactured goods increased 1.2 percent in April, a slowdown from a 1.7 percent rise in March.
Excluding transportation, orders actually fell 0.5 percent, the poorest showing in 13 months. However, that drop followed a big 3.8 percent surge in March which had been the largest advance in six years.
So far in this recovery, the manufacturing sector has been one of the star performers, helped by a strong rebound in domestic demand and rising export sales.
However, economists worry that the debt crisis in Europe could slow sales in one of America's biggest overseas markets.
© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.