Although the level of business improved slightly in May from a month earlier, companies still struggled to pay bills as the average number of late credit days worsened by two days, Business Data Israel reported on Sunday. In May, BDI's average-weighted business risk index moved down slightly, by 0.5 percent to 6.35 points, from 6.38 points in the previous month. "However, the business risk level among companies in the economy is still high on average and has risen by 8% in comparison with May last year, when the index stood at 5.87 points," BDI economists said. Out of the surveyed companies, 23.7% were classified as being at very high risk last month, with an average weighted risk level of 9 and 10, compared with 25% in April. BDI said these businesses suffered from large liquidity problems, bouncing checks, and big losses in revenues and profits. The difficulties faced by these companies and businesses would threaten the continuation of their business activity for the coming year or two, the economists said. As in previous months, the restaurant and cafÃ© sector was rated the riskiest in May, with a business-risk rating of 7.10, a slight improvement from April. Construction was the second-riskiest sector, with a business risk rating of 7.01, up from 6.97. The tourism and hotel sector was third, with a rating of 6.93, an improvement from 7.01 in the preceding month. The business-risk level in the transportation industrial goods sector was 6.85 in May, up from 6.53. The chemicals sector was rated the strongest and most secure sector, with an average business risk rating of 5.36 in May, from 5.45 in the previous month, followed by the metal industry sector, at 5.40, from 5.63 previously, and the paper and carton sector, at 5.55. Year-on-year comparisons showed the biggest deterioration was in the rubber and plastics sector, with the rating falling 11.9%. The biggest improvement was found in the transportation services sector, which improved by 5.3% from a year ago. Meanwhile, BDI's payment ethic index showed that payment ethic across the majority of sectors in the economy worsened last month. The number of late payment days to suppliers rose by two days, to 10 days, compared with 8 days in April. The average credit period agreed to by businesses remained unchanged in May and stood at 91 days. The payment ethic in 79% of surveyed business sectors (23 out of 29 sectors) deteriorated last month compared with April, while in 10% of business sectors the payment ethic was unchanged. The food and beverage manufacturing and wholesale sector had the most lax payment norms in May; the average payment by food and beverage producers was 23 days beyond agreed deadlines, BDI said. The transport, storage and logistics sector came in second place, with 17 late payment days on average. The most reliable deals were made in the chemicals and drugs manufacturing and wholesale sector, where average payment was three days late beyond the agreed credit days during May, bringing the total to 94 days. The next best was the paper and carton manufacturing sector, with an average of three days of delayed debt payment, bringing the total of credit days to 106.