Hiring has slowed from the start of the year and could complicate the Federal Reserve’s decision this month on whether to reduce its bond purchases.
The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work fell to its lowest level in 35 years.
African-American employment went up slightly from a yearly low of 12.6 to 13 percent, but black teen joblessness (still the highest of any group) went down from 41.6 to 38.2 percent.
July’s job gains were just 104,000, the fewest in more than a year and down from the previous estimate of 162,000. June’s figure was revised to 172,000, from 188,000. The revisions lowered total hiring over those two months by 74,000.
Employers have added an average of just 148,000 jobs in the past three months, well below the 12-month average of 184,000.
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