WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economy broke out of its hiring slump in July as employers nationwide added 163,000 new jobs over the month – the most since February, the Labor Department reported Friday.
But the nation’s jobless rate edged up to 8.3% last month, from 8.2% in the prior two months. The number of unemployed workers rose slightly in July, to 12.8 million.
Still, the better-than-expected hiring last month – analysts were forecasting about 100,000 new jobs – ended a string of three straight months of job growth averaging only about 75,000. The slowdown was partly the result of the mild winter weather. Employers also started to pull back in the spring amid a slowing global economy and deepening worries about Europe and the fiscal outlook in the U.S.
The job-growth number for last month still isn’t strong, but will nonetheless be welcomed on Wall Street and by the White House. The economy slowed sharply in the second quarter and is off to a mixed start in the second half of this year, with housing and construction gaining momentum but consumer spending and manufacturing showing signs of weakening.