THE services sector of the economy grew marginally last month as new export orders dropped for the first time this year.
Companies said that declining workloads led them to reduce staff numbers for the third month in a row.
Apart from a slight rise in April this year, employment in the services sector has now fallen every month since March 2008.
The NCB Services Purchasing Managers' Index recorded 51.7 in July, down from 52.4 in June. Overall, new business dropped for the third month in a row as weak economic conditions in Ireland continued and new business from abroad dropped slightly.
The new business index recorded 49.2, with the export orders index falling to 49.6.