Service businesses grew at a faster rate than other types of companies in 1997, according to a Coopers & Lybrand survey of chief executive officers at 430 rapidly growing businesses.

Those in the service sector posted an annual growth rate averaging 29.8%, well above the 17.4% average for product businesses.

The responding executives said they experienced slower growth in international sales and less domestic demand last year. They also said difficulty finding qualified workers hampered their growth.

Overall, the businesses surveyed enjoyed a 23.1% growth rate, down from 26.9% in 1996. They forecast 26% growth for 1998.

About 58% said they plan major capital investments this year, down from 63% last year. They expect to spend 12.5% of their revenue on major investments this year, down from 14.3% last year.

- Sara Nathan

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