Reporting from Washington — The employment picture in the U.S. remained bleak last month as the nation's payrolls fell for a second straight month, with private-sector businesses adding a disappointingly scant number of new jobs. The jobless rate held steady at 9.5% in July, the government said Friday.
The Labor Department said that private employers added just 71,000 new net jobs in July. Meanwhile, the federal government laid off 143,000 temporary census workers, and with budget-strapped local governments also cutting back, the total number of American jobs last month fell by 131,000 from June.
What's more, Labor statisticians revised down the job figures for June, saying that total payroll jobs fell by 221,000 that month instead of 125,000 previously estimated.
Overall, the latest snapshot of the U.S. economy indicates no momentum building in the crucial job market, which underpins consumer spending and confidence on the part of individuals and businesses. After adding 200,000 private-sector jobs on average in March and April, the labor market has weakened ÃƒÂƒÃ‚Â‚– producing just 51,000 jobs on average in each of the last three months. The data are consistent with other economic indicators such as housing and retail sales that have softened since late spring.