Unemployment ticks higher to 8.3 percent

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 (UPI) — The U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in July, but the unemployment rate rose one tick to 8.3 percent, anyway, the Labor Department said Friday.

The employment situation report said 163,000 jobs were added to the economy in the month, better than the 100,000 expected.

The department said the unemployment rate was “essentially unchanged,” as it crept higher from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent, a figure that is bound to plague the Obama administration in an election year. The increase was because of more job seekers entering the work force.

The report also indicates “growth remains slow in the third quarter — likely in the range of 2.5 percent,” said economics professor Peter Morici at the University of Maryland in a statement.

Markit economist Chris Williamson said the report, along with drops in retail sales and factory orders in the second quarter, “plus the lowest manufacturing purchasing managers index for three years in July, suggest that the U.S. economy has lost considerable growth momentum so far this summer.”

The department indicated growth was steady. This year, “employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average gain of 153,000 in 2011,” the situation report said.

The government said professional and business service jobs increased by 49,000 in the month, while computer systems design jobs gained by 7,000.

Restaurants and bars added 29,000 jobs in July — adding to a gain of 292,000 over the past 12 months.

Heathcare added 12,000 jobs, while manufacturing added 25,000. “Within durable goods, the motor vehicles and parts industry had fewer seasonal layoffs than is typical for July, contributing to a seasonally adjusted employment increase of 13,000,” the report said.

The average workweek was unchanged in the month, holding at 34.5 hours. Hourly earnings, on average, gained 2 cents to $23.52.

While May’s gain in jobs was revised higher, from 77,000 to 87,000, the figure for June was lowered from 80,000 to 64,000.

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