162,000 jobs added, unemployment falls to 7.4%

Job seekers wait in line to have their resumes reviewed at a job fair on November 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the economy added 162,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent.

Today’s employment report from the U.S. Department of Labor is stronger than expected on unemployment, and weaker than expected on new-job creation. The unemployment rate is based on a survey of American households; the job-creation numbers are based on a survey of employers.

The economy added 162,000 jobs in July, about 20,000 fewer than the consensus among economists called for before the report was issued. Job-creation numbers were also revised downward for May and June, by 26,000, meaning that average monthly job gains are at 189,000, slightly lower than the pace leading up to mid-summer.

The unemployment rate fell in July by 0.2 percent to 7.4 percent. Approximately 250,000 fewer Americans reported to survey-takers that they were unemployed, than in June. The labor-force participation rate was unchanged, indicating that the decline in unemployment was not due to people dropping out of the workforce altogether.

However, the number of discouraged workers has increased by 136,000 since July 2012. These people have not looked for a job in the past four weeks because, they say, no jobs are available for them.

Job gains in July faltered in key goods-producing, blue-collar positions, including construction and manufacturing. Services (excluding health care, which has been rising steadily) were on a roll. Gains were made in retail trade (including car dealers and building and home-improvement supplies); bars, restaurants and hotels; financial and business services. Government jobs were flat overall.

To hear more about the latest numbers from Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, click on the audio player above.


Audio Extra: Thomas Perez, the new U.S. Secretary of Labor, shares his take on the latest numbers and how they fit into the overall jobs picture.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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