WASHINGTON – Employers in the U.S. added more than 200,000 jobs for the sixth straight month in July, showing the world’s largest economy is making strides toward sustaining faster growth entering the sixth year of expansion. The jobless rate rose as growing confidence prompted more Americans to look for work.
The 209,000 advance followed a 298,000 gain in June that was stronger than initially reported, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 230,000 increase. The jobless rate climbed to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent, while wages and hours were unchanged from June.
The degree of hiring this year may help trigger a self-reinforcing cycle of gains in spending and job opportunities that will spur the economy. While the labor market has improved, Federal Reserve policy makers this week said they will keep interest rates low until wages accelerate and more discouraged workers find jobs.
“You now have six straight months of greater-than-200,000 job gains,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York, whose 210,000 estimate was among the closest in the Bloomberg payrolls survey. “The labor force rose, and the labor force rises typically when people are feeling better about the backdrop.”
Payrolls estimates in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from increases of 160,000 to 310,000. Revisions to prior reports added a total of 15,000 jobs to overall payrolls in the previous two months.
Manufacturing expanded in July at the fastest pace in more than three years, showing factories will help power the economy after a second-quarter rebound, other data showed Friday. The Institute for Supply Management’s index increased to 57.1, the highest since April 2011, from 55.3 a month earlier, the Tempe, Ariz.-based group’s reported. Readings above 50 indicate growth.
Stocks fluctuated as investors sifted through the data. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.1 percent to 1,933.23 at 10:28 a.m. in New York.