WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The companies that employ roughly 80% of American workers grew more slowly in February and their workforces contracted for the first time in more than two years, according to a survey of executives.
The Institute for Supply Management said its non-manufacturing index dropped to 51.6% last month from 54% in January. While readings over 50% signal more companies are expanding instead of shrinking, the index fell well short of the 53% forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch.
The index is compiled from a survey of senior executives who buy supplies for their companies. The latest results show that service companies such as retailers, health-care suppliers and hotels stumbled in February and unusually poor weather was partly but not entirely to blame.