Manufacturing grew for the 21st straight month in April, though at a slightly slower pace than the previous month.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, says its index of manufacturing activity dipped to 60.4 in April. That's down from 61.2 in March and 61.4 in February, the fastest expansion in nearly seven years. A reading above 50 signals growth.
The index has topped 60 for four straight months. It bottomed out during the recession at 33.3 in December 2008, the lowest point since June 1980.
Manufacturing has been one of the economy's brightest spots since the recession ended in June 2009. Factories have benefited from strong overseas demand for machinery and other goods. And U.S. consumers have spent more on autos, appliances and computers.