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Report: US Manufacturing Grows More Slowly

FILE - Jimmetta Smith of Lithonia, Ga., right, holds her resume while talking with Rhonda Knight, a senior recruiter for Delta airlines, at a job fair in Marietta, Ga., Nov. 14, 2013.

A series of reports Wednesday painted a mixed picture of the U.S. economy, with a measure of manufacturing showing a slight drop.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said U.S. factory output grew more slowly in September, after strong gains the prior month.

Its index of national factory activity dropped to 56.6 last month, its lowest level since June. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, Reuters reported.

Analysts at TrimTabs, which tracks income tax receipts for millions of workers, said companies hired fewer people in September than the previous month. But experts at ADP, a company that processes millions of paychecks, said hiring rose a bit.

Both studies said a little more than 200,000 people found work.

Report on Friday

The government will publish its closely watched measures of the U.S. job market on Friday.

A survey of economists by Bloomberg said there was probably a net gain of 215,000 jobs across the economy, while they predict the unemployment rate will be unchanged at 6.1 percent.

Earlier, a survey of the members of the National Association for Business Economics predicted the U.S. unemployment rate would fall to 5.7 percent by the end of 2015.

These key business economists also expect the economy to grow steadily in the near future.