A closely watched index of the manufacturing sector released Monday showed activity near a four-year high in October, following last week's report of 7.2% GDP growth in the third quarter.

The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers' index rose to 57% in October, above economists' forecasts of 55.8% and a September level of 53.7%.

The ISM survey has been above 50 -- considered the level at which the economy is expanding -- for four consecutive months.

Another economic report out Monday also came in better than expected. The government said construction spending rose 1.3% in September, three times what was forecast. August figures were revised higher to 0.7% from 0.4%. Economists have been anticipating some sort of slowdown in one of the hottest parts of the economy since the Fed's interest rate cutting cycle is considered over.

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The construction and manufacturing figures come after the best quarterly GDP figures in about 20 years last Thursday.

Overall, the ISM survey showed broad-based improvement, particularly in the areas of new orders and production.

Even its employment index posted an increase from 45.7% to 47.7%, although it remained below the 50% level for the 37th straight month. The ISM said six industries, including food and transport, reported job growth in October.

Concern about a so-called jobless recovery has undercut optimism about a full-fledged economic rebound in the second and third quarters of this year. The manufacturing sector, in particular, has lost more than 2 million jobs in recent years.

The government is due to report October figures on job creation and unemployment this Friday. Economists are forecasting that the economy added about 50,000 jobs in October, slightly less than September, with the unemployment rate remaining at 6.1%, not far from its recent nine-year high.