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U.S. Economy Adds 209,000 Jobs In July; Unemployment Dips To 4.3 Percent

A sign advertising job openings hangs outside a restaurant in Middleton, Mass., last month. At 4.3 percent unemployment, the jobs rate is near the point that most economists deem full employment.

The U.S. economy created an estimated 209,000 jobs in July, representing a modest slowdown from the previous month but coming in better than many economists had expected. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in its monthly report that, statistically, July showed little change from previous months, as the number of unemployed persons remained around 7 million.

At 4.3 percent, the jobs rate is near the point that most economists deem full employment. About 200,000 new jobs a month is considered a sign of a robust economy.

The figures for June were revised upward, with the BLS saying that 231,000 jobs were created in the month instead of the originally reported 222,000.

However, the number for May was revised downward to 145,000 from 152,000.

It was the 82nd consecutive month of jobs growth. Job gains have averaged 184,000 per month so far this year, slightly lower than last year's pace, according to David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Mutual.

Reacting to the news, President Trump in a tweet called the numbers "excellent."

"I have only just begun," he wrote.

NPR's Chris Arnold says that "this latest report suggests that the U.S. economy is in pretty good shape."

Food services, drinking places, professional and business services, and health care all saw gains.

The average workweek was unchanged at 34.5 hours. Average hourly wages rose by 9 cents, to $26.36.

"Wage growth remains sluggish," Chris says. "Average hourly earnings were up 2.5 percent from a year ago. And most economists would like to see wages rising more quickly."

The national unemployment rate has been falling more or less steadily since a peak of 10 percent in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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