Service sector expands at fastest pace in a year

Business activity rose to 56.9 from 56.4, while new orders were up 58.2 from 54.4, according to the survey.

The index is a survey of a wide variety of businesses — the sector employs 90 percent of all workers, including those employed at restaurants, hotels and retailers.

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Employers continued to hire, although at a slightly slower pace.

“The economy continues to slowly pick up, perhaps at an even faster pace than had been previously projected. New housing permits and business licenses are at a multiyear high, although still lower than pre-recession,” one survey respondent said.