US unemployment rate rises to 6.2 percent

World Today

The U.S. economy created 209,000 jobs while unemployment rate rose slightly — 0.1 percent in July to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent — as more Americans started looking for work. Most didn’t find jobs, but the increase suggests that they’re more optimistic about their prospects. The jobless aren’t counted as unemployed unless they’re actively seeking work.

What 30 years of U.S. unemployment data looks like

Data: BLS.

The higher unemployment rate is a sign that more people are returning to the workforce. The latest data show there are more than 3 million people in the ranks of the long-term unemployed out of 9.7 million unemployed people in the United States. The overall number of unemployed has declined 1.7 million over the past year. The labor-force participation rate stayed about the same, at 62.9 percent. Average hourly wages increased by a cent, to $24.45.

July’s gain was less than in the previous three months and probably wasn’t strong enough to suggest that the Federal Reserve will soon raise interest rates to curb inflation. The latest report from the Labor department also said the economy had a net gain of 209,000 jobs. Economists had expected a 233,000 job gain. 298,000 jobs were added in June and 229,000 in May.

The biggest industry gainer was professional and business services, which added 47,000 jobs. Manufacturing (28,000), retail trade (27,000), and construction (22,000) saw the next-largest gains.The Federal Reserve is using labor market data as one of several economic indicators to determine when to start raising rates from the near-zero range where they’ve sat since December of 2008. Inflation is another key indicator, and the two data sources go hand in hand.

Analysts say Fed policy makers are looking at more than the number of monthly job gains and the headline unemployment rate as they determine future monetary policy.

Article based on reporting by The Associated Press.