You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live

4

3

▼  8th Inning 1 outs

US service firms grow more slowly, hiring weakens

A medical assistant conducts a check up in Seattle. US service companies grew more slowly in March.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

A medical assistant conducts a check up in Seattle. US service companies grew more slowly in March.

WASHINGTON — Two reports Wednesday showed that US service companies grew more slowly in March and private employers pulled back on hiring.

The declines suggest businesses may have grown more cautious last month after federal spending cuts took effect.

Continue reading below

The Institute for Supply Management said that its index of nonmanufacturing activity fell to 54.4 last month. That’s down from 56 in February and the lowest in seven months. Any reading above 50 signals expansion.

Slower hiring and a steep drop in new orders drove the index down. A gauge of hiring fell 3.9 points to 53.3, the lowest since November.

That means companies kept hiring, just at a slower pace.

The ISM report covers companies that employ roughly 90 percent of the workforce.

A separate report from payroll processor ADP also pointed to slightly weaker hiring in March. ADP said private employers added 158,000 jobs in March, down from 237,000 the previous month.

Construction firms didn’t add any jobs after three months of solid gains.

Economists were not overly concerned with the weaker reports. Several noted that ADP’s figures are less reliable than the government’s more comprehensive jobs report, which comes out on Friday.

Still, most say the pace of hiring has almost certainly dropped off from the previous four months, when employers added an average of 200,000 net jobs a month.

And a few reduced their forecasts for March job growth after seeing the two reports.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.