A measure of the health of the nation’s non-manufacturing sector shows it grew in March for the 50th consecutive month, according to the nation's purchasing and supply executives.

The latest Institute of Supply Management Report on Business shows its Non-Manufacturing Index registered 53.1% in March, 1.5 percentage points higher than February's reading of 51.6%. A reading above 50% indicates the non-manufacturing sector economy is generally expanding while below 50% indicates it is generally contracting.

The 13 non-manufacturing industries reporting growth in March, listed in order are: agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; transportation and warehousing; construction; utilities; management of companies and support services; wholesale trade; finance and insurance; arts, entertainment and recreation; accommodation and food services; retail trade; public administration; information; and professional, scientific and technical services.

The five industries reporting contraction in March are: mining; educational services; health care and social assistance; real estate, rental and leasing along with other services.

The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index decreased to 53.4%, which is 1.2 percentage points lower than the reading of 54.6% reported in February, reflecting growth for the 56th consecutive month, but at a slower rate.

The New Orders Index registered 53.4%, 2.1 percentage points higher than the reading of 51.3% registered in February.

“Despite the affects of weather on many of the respective businesses, the majority of respondents indicate that business conditions are improving. The respondents also project better business activity and economic conditions as weather conditions continue to improve," said Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM Non-Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.