Employers added fewer workers than anticipated in July and the U.S. jobless rate dropped to 7.4 percent, indicating uneven progress in the labor market.
The 162,000 increase in payrolls last month was the smallest in four months and followed a revised 188,000 rise in June that was less than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 93 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 185,000 gain. Workers spent fewer hours on the job and hourly earnings fell for the first time since October.
“This isn’t a disaster of a report but it shows the U.S. remains vulnerable to a slower economic growth performance,” said Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York, who had projected payrolls would rise by 165,000. “This isn’t the kind of progress the Fed would like to see. At the margin, it keeps them cautious.”