Unemployment dips to 7.4 percent in July

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The U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in July, 26,000 fewer than during the previous month, but the unemployment rate edged down to 7.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

The jobless rate was the lowest since December 2008. Reuters said the government’s report sent mixed signals that could make the Federal Reserve more cautious about drawing down its economic stimulus program.

Reuters also said the data reinforce the view that the job market is inching toward recovery.

"We're sort of grinding along here," Gordon Charlop, managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York, told the news service.

The government said employment rose in July in retail trade, food services and drinking places, financial activities and wholesale trade. It said 11.5 million people were unemployed during the month and that the number of long-term unemployed (people who have been jobless for 27 weeks or more) was little changed at 4.2 million.

The government revised its job gains lower for May and June. May’s increase was revised from 195,000 to 176,000 and the gain in June was revised from 195,000 to 188,000.

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