U.S. service firms grew more quickly last month as sales and new orders rose, adding to other evidence that the economy is picking up after a slow start to the year.

The Institute for Supply Management says its service-sector index rose to 55.2 in April from 53.1 in March. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Ryan Peterson prepares french fries at a Dick's Drive-In restaurant in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The figures come after a healthy jobs report on Friday also fueled hopes for an improving economy. The government said employers added 288,000 jobs in April, the most in 2 1/2 years, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent.

The better data represents a turnaround after the government said last week that the economy barely expanded in the first three months of the year.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.