U.S. Job Gains Drop To 92,000 In July

Unemployment up to 4.6%

The jobs market softened dramatically in July, with employers adding a weaker than expected 92,000 jobs, after 126,000 the previous month, and unemployment rising a notch, the Labor Department said Aug. 3. It was the weakest jobs gain since February and fell far short of the Wall Street consensus forecast of 135,000 new jobs.

The 4.6% unemployment rate in July was the highest since January.

Manufacturing lost 2,000 while construction lost 12,000 and the public sector shed 28,000 jobs.

Job creation was led by the services sector in July, up 104,000, education and health, up 39,000, and business services up 26,000.

"Over the first seven months of 2007, job growth has averaged 136,000 jobs per month, compared with an average monthly gain of 189,000 in 2006," said Philip Rones of the Labor Department.

Economists closely monitor job creation as a more accurate indicator of the health of the jobs market than the unemployment rate. They say the economy needs to create between 110,000 and 140,000 new jobs each month to absorb growth in the number of people seeking work.

Hourly wages rose 0.3% from June, to $17.45, in line with expectations. On a 12-month basis, it was 3.9% higher for the second month in a row.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 20

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