Service firms grew at slightly faster pace

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER | September 6, 2011 | 10:20 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. service firms, which employ 90 percent of the work force, grew at a slightly faster pace in August. But the sector remains weak, adding to concerns that the economy is at risk of another recession.

The Institute for Supply Management says its index for service companies rose to 53.3 in August, up from 52.7 in July. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Over the past two years, it has grown in all but one month. The index reached a five-year high of 59.7 in February. But growth has declined in four of the past six months.