WASHINGTON — U.S. service companies grew in February at the fastest pace in a year, buoyed by higher sales and more new orders.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 56 in February from 55.2 in January. 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.
Firms kept adding jobs last month, although at a slightly slower pace. A gauge of hiring dipped a nearly seven-year high in January.
Service firms, including construction companies, added an average of 195,000 jobs from November through January, according to government data. The Labor Department will report on February hiring Friday.