By Vicki Needham - 03/05/13 04:15 PM EST
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.
“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.