The US unemployment rate fell to 7.4% in July to mark the lowest level since December 2008, but the economy only gained a modest 162,000 jobs last month. Analysts had expected the US to add 180,000 net jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis. More evidence of a slowdown was the number of new jobs created in June and May were also revised down by a combined 26,000, the government reported, which earlier this week, said the US economy rose just 1.7% in the April-to-June period.
Despite the slowdown, the Fed is still expected to reduce its monthly asset purchases next month. How that move will play on Wall Street and consumer sentiment remains to be seen.
The US has created an average of 192,000 jobs in the first seven months of 2013 to mark the best stretch of hiring to start a year since 2006. The hiring figures are drawn from a survey of US businesses and other workplaces.
Most sectors of the economy added jobs in July, led by retail and professional and business services. Retailers hired 47,000 workers and some 36,000 professional jobs were created, the Labor Department said. US manufacturers hired 6,000 workers, the first increase in five months. And the government, which has been shedding jobs during the past few years, even added 1,000 positions.
The construction trade trimmed 6,000 positions.