NEWS
03/03/2016 10:16 EST | Updated 03/04/2017 00:12 EST

Growth at US services firms skids to slowest pace in 2 years

WASHINGTON — A private survey says the growth of U.S. services companies in February slowed to the worst pace in two years, as a measure of hiring turned negative.

The Institute for Supply Management says that its services index dipped to 53.4 last month from 53.5 in January. February's reading was the lowest since February 2014.

Still, any reading above 50 signals that services firms are expanding. The survey showed continued but slower growth for business activity and new orders. But the employment component was 49.7, which signals contraction.

The ISM is a trade group of purchasing managers. Its services survey covers businesses that employ the vast majority of workers, including retail, construction, health care and financial services companies.

Josh Boak, The Associated Press