U.S. Adds 162,000 Jobs, Continuing a Tepid Run

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Unemployment Rate at 7.4%; May, June Figures Revised Down.

U.S. job growth dampened as the summer got under way, with employers adding 162,000 jobs in July, once again led by lower-wage positions in the retail and food services industries.

The unemployment rate, derived from a separate Labor Department survey, fell to 7.4%—its lowest level since December 2008—partly because the number of employed people rose, though some also dropped out of the labor force.

The Labor Department’s seasonally adjusted July payrolls figure, coupled with a downward revisions of 26,000 jobs in the prior two months, points to a recent pullback in the pace of hiring. For July, economists had predicted the payrolls would increase by 183,000 jobs. Average hourly earnings also fell for the first time in nine months.

Over the past 12 months the economy has added an average of 189,000 jobs a month, enough to slowly bring down the unemployment rate from its 8.2% level in July 2012.

Still, the pace of economic growth over the past year has been anemic, prompting the Federal Reserve on Wednesday to leave in place its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program. The economy expanded at only a 1.4% annualized pace in the first half of the year.

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