WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. non-manufacturing sector expanded for the 36th straight month in December, and the sector grew at a quicker pace than in November, a widely recognized U.S. private survey revealed on Friday.
The Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI), which measures activity in the U.S. service sector, rose to 56.1 percent in December from 54. 7 percent in November, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said in its monthly survey.
The NMI survey covers all sectors outside of manufacturing. A reading above 50 indicates expansion of the service sector.
The index showed that new orders, a signal of future business, increased last month to 59.3 from 58.1 in November. The survey's employment index jumped to 56.3 in December, said the ISM.
A total number of 13 industries reported expansion last month including retail trade and real estate, while five other industries including wholesale trade reported contraction.
The NMI index is closely watched because the service sector absorbs about 90 percent the U.S. workforce, and is a key indicator for the overall health of the economic recovery.