U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, a modest increase and the fewest since March. Still, the unemployment rate fell to a 4 1/2-year low of 7.4 percent, a hopeful sign.
Unemployment declined from 7.6 percent in June because more Americans found jobs, and others stopped looking and were no longer counted as unemployed.
Still, Friday’s report from the Commerce Department pointed to a less-than-robust job market. It suggested that the economy’s subpar growth and modest consumer spending are making many businesses cautious about hiring.
The government said employers added a combined 26,000 fewer jobs in May and June than it previously estimated. Americans worked fewer hours in July, and their average pay dipped. And many of the jobs employers added last month were for lower-paying work at stores, bars and restaurants.
For the year, job growth has remained steady. The economy has added an average 200,000 jobs a month since January, though the pace has slowed in the past three months to 175,000.