Chicago business index slips in January, still in positive ground UPI 1/31/2014 6:12:50 PM CHICAGO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Chicago Business Barometer slipped in January, easing back from an upwardly revised level for December, the Institute of Supply Management said Friday. The Institute said December's purchasing managers index was revised from 59.1 to 60.8. For January, the index that indicated growth with numbers above 50, "softened to 59.6," the report said. The index, which covers Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, has dropped steadily after hitting an 18-month peak of 65.9 in October. The Institute for Supply Management, which releases the report in a partnership with the Deutsche Borse Group, said the component index measuring employment dropped sharply for the second consecutive month, reaching a low unseen since April 2013. The employment index slipped into negative territory -- indicating a contraction -- for the first time in nine months. Concurrently, the prices paid index rose to the highest level in more than a year, the report said. Indexes for production, new orders and order backlogs all rose slightly after two months of declines. "There have been concerns that putting the brakes on monetary easing could damage business. Most respondents [to the monthly survey], though, thought that the Federal Reserve's decision to begin tapering their bond purchases in December would not have a significant impact on their business", said MNI Indicators Chief Economist Philip Uglow, referring to the U.S. Federal Reserve's quantitative easing program. The Fed began easing back on the program from $85 billion in asset purchases to $75 billion in January. The Fed this week said it will reduce purchases further to $65 billion in February.