Employers added 162,000 jobs in July, adding to worries that the labor market may finally be wobbling amid federal spending cuts and a payroll tax increase.
The unemployment rate fell from 7.6% to 7.4%, lowest since December 2008, the Labor Department said Friday,
A consensus forecast of economists had estimated that 185,000 jobs were added last month.
Businesses added 161,000 jobs on healthy gains by retailers, restaurants and professional and business services. Federal, state and local governments added 1,000.
Job gains for May and June were revised down by a total 26,000. May’s gains were revised to 176,000 from 195,000 and June’s to 188,000 from 195,000.
“We are likely seeing the effects” of the federal budget cuts, says Gus Faucher, senior economist of PNC Financial. “They may be a drag (on job growth) for another few months.”