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U.S. service sector grows at fastest pace in two years

March 3, 2010 |  8:53 am


The U.S. service sector last month marked its fastest expansion in more than two years, according to a report Wednesday.

The nonmanufacturing index calculated by the Institute for Supply Management jumped to 53 from 50.5 in January, the highest level since December 2007.

Any level above 50 represents growth, according to the Tempe, Ariz.-based nonprofit.

Nine service industries exceeded that mark, including information, arts, entertainment and recreation, and transportation and warehousing.

Across the board, new orders and inventories were up. The prices index, while still rising, dropped to 60.4 from 61.2.

Employment has declined for the last 26 months, but institute's employment index jumped in February to 48.6 from 44.6, suggesting that more jobs could be on the horizon.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Employees at Langer's deli near MacArthur Park. The accommodation and food services category contracted in February. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times