A gauge of manufacturing in New York State rose slightly in August after plunging the previous month as employment rebounded, the New York Federal Reserve said in a report on Monday.

The New York Fed's Empire State general business conditions index increased to 7.10 in August from 5.08 in July.

The August reading was below market expectations. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a figure of 8.00 for August.

Employment gauges showed improvement. The index for the number of employees rose to 14.29 in August from 7.94 in July. The average employee workweek index jumped to 7.14 from -9.52.

The new orders index, however, fell below zero for the first time since June 2009.

The index of business conditions six months ahead fell to 35.71 in August, the lowest since July 2009, from 41.27 in July.

Despite a small rise this month, the index remains well below its recent high near 32 reached in April. It's consistent with other recent data showing the U.S. economy has slowed considerably in the past few months, though most economists say a double-dip recession remains unlikely.

The survey of manufacturing plants in the state is one of the earliest monthly guideposts to U.S. factory conditions.

(Reporting by Wanfeng Zhou; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)