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Service sector shows steady growth

A server at an Atlanta restaurant. A gauge of hiring in the service industries rose 3.5 points to 56.2.

David Goldman/Associated Press/File

A server at an Atlanta restaurant. A gauge of hiring in the service industries rose 3.5 points to 56.2.

WASHINGTON — Activity at US service firms accelerated in October behind a jump in sales and more hiring, suggesting businesses largely shrugged off the partial government shutdown.

The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that its service-sector index rose to 55.4 in October, up from 54.4 in September. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

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The expansion at service firms echoes an ISM survey of manufacturers released last week, which showed the fastest growth at factories in 2½ years. Combined, the two reports suggest the private sector is showing steady growth and was not greatly affected by the shutdown.

The increase ‘‘supports other evidence suggesting that the wider economy shrugged off the government shutdown,’’ said Paul Dales, at Capital Economics.

The service-sector report measures growth at companies that employ 90 percent of the workforce, including retail, construction, health care, and financial services.

A measure of their sales jumped 4.6 points last month to 59.7. And a gauge of hiring rose 3.5 points to 56.2. Measures of new orders and new export orders fell.

Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM’s service-sector survey, noted that some companies in the hotel, restaurant, and retail industries complained about the shutdown. But those concerns ‘‘did not seem to translate into the numbers that we see here.’’

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