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163,000 Jobs Added In July; Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.3 Percent

Aug 3, 2012
Originally published on August 3, 2012 12:12 pm

There were 163,000 more jobs on public and private payrolls last month, but the nation's unemployment rate edged up to 8.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just reported.

The jobs gain was the best in five months and was much better than the revised estimated of growth for June — a gain of just 64,000 jobs. But it wasn't good enough to keep the jobless rate from rising slightly. In June, it stood at 8.2 percent.

We'll have more from the report, reactions to it and analyses as the morning continues. Click your "refresh" button to make sure you're seeing our latest updates.

Update at 12:05 p.m. ET. Obama Focuses On Gains, Talks Taxes:

Speaking at the White House, the president just started his remarks by noting that private employers have added 4.5 million jobs to their payrolls over the last 29 months. "Those are our neighbors and family members finding new work," he said, while conceding that "we've still got too many folks out there who are looking for work."

Then he turned to again calling on Congress to extend the so-called Bush tax cuts for all Americans except those families earning more than $250,000 a year. Republicans have said they want to extend the cuts for everyone. They say that a still struggling economy could be hurt by effectively raising anyone's taxes. The president and his fellow Democrats say it's time to ask wealthy Americans to pay more as part of an effort to help trip future deficits.

Update at 11:58 a.m. ET. Romney Says "Real People" Are Suffering:

After repeating his earlier line about unemployment being a "hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America,' Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney just told an audience in Las Vegas that "real people [are] really suffering and having hard times" in America today. He blamed what he says are the president's failed economic policies.

If he's elected, Romney said, he will put in place policies that "get America working again." (Our thanks to CNN.com, which streamed Romney's remarks.)

Update at 11:40 a.m. ET. Obama, Romney To Speak:

The president is about to make comments about the report — and to make his case about not extending the so-called Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 a year. And Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is due to speak shortly at an event in Las Vegas.

Update at 10 a.m. ET. Stocks Are Up:

Wall Street seems to be taking the news well. The Dow Jones industrial average is up about 210 points (1.7 percent) after 30 minutes of trading.

Update at 9:50 a.m. ET. Romney Says It's "A Hammer Blow," White House Sees Positive Side:

As we reported earlier, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney called the increase in unemployment a "hammer blow to struggling middle-class families."

Now, White House economist Alan Krueger is out with his analysisand he begins by saying that "while there is more work that remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression." He adds that "the economy has now added private sector jobs for 29 straight months, for a total of 4.5 million jobs during that period."

Republicans such as House Speaker John Boehner, however, point out that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent for 42 months.

Through July, President Obama has been in office for 42 months.

Update at 9:30 a.m. ET. Taken A Little Further, Change In Jobless Rate Is Even Smaller:

Crunching the numbers shows that the jobless rate last month was 8.25 percent if you carry it out another place — vs. 8.22 percent in June. That helps explain why BLS says the rate was "essentially unchanged."

Update at 9:20 a.m. ET. Politically, Report Cuts Both Ways.

The Associated Press writes that:

"President Barack Obama got new figures Friday to buttress his argument that he's presiding over steady, if slow, economic growth. But the government's report that the overall rate of unemployment actually crept up to 8.3 percent allows Republican rival Mitt Romney to keep pressure on Obama to defend his record."

CBS News' Mark Knoller says Romney has characterized the rise in the jobless rate as being "a hammer blow to struggling middle-class families."

Update at 9:10 a.m. ET. About 7 Million Have Been Out Of Work A Long Time:

In July there were 6.9 million people who had been unemployed 15 weeks or longer, BLS says. That was down from 7.2 million in June.

Update at 9:05 a.m. ET. Where The Gains Were:

The sector with the biggest increase in jobs — 49,000 — was "professional and business services," BLS says. That sector includes jobs in the legal profession, accounting, computer systems, temporary help and administration.

The education and health services sectors added 38,000 jobs.

Restaurants and "drinking places" increased employment by 29,400 positions.

There was a 25,000-increase in the manufacturing sector.

Update at 9:03 a.m. ET. "A Good Number":

"This is a good number, it's well above expectations," economist Hugh Johnson tells our Newscast Desk, referring to the jobs increase.

Update at 9 a.m. ET. Republican Reaction:

"Last week Obama said his jobs plan worked. With unemployment going up yet again, it's obvious it hasn't & he's out of ideas," tweets Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Update at 8:55 a.m. ET. Some Early Analyses:

-- "The latest payroll numbers are encouraging after three months of weak job creation, but the figures still aren't enough to lower the unemployment rate, and hiring remains well below the pace set at the start of the year." (The Wall Street Journal)

-- "Uneven hiring may hold back consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, as a global slowdown and impending U.S. tax changes weigh on businesses." (Bloomberg News)

-- Though job growth picked up, the increase in the unemployment rate means that investors will still be anticipating some type of move by the Federal Reserve to give the economy a boost. (Reuters)

Update at 8:52 a.m. ET. News Was Basically Better Than Expected:

As we reported earlier, economists had expected to hear that 100,000 jobs were added to payrolls. They also thought BLS would say the jobless rate had remained 8.2 percent.

Update at 8:48 a.m. ET. Fewer "Discouraged" Workers:

One reason the unemployment rate can rise even as more jobs are added to payrolls is that if more people decide to start looking for work again that adds to the size of the labor force. One way to measure that type of change is to look at "discouraged workers" — those who aren't looking for jobs because they don't think there are any to find.

According to BLS, "there were 852,000 discouraged workers in July, a decline of 267,000 from a year earlier." That could be a sign of increased optimism about the labor market.

Update at 8:42 a.m. ET. Job Growth Averaging Around 150,000 A Month:

According to BLS, "since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011."

At that pace, however, there aren't enough new jobs being added to bring down the unemployment rate. It has stayed in a narrow range — from 8.1 percent to 8.3 percent — this year. The rate recently peaked at 10 percent in October 2009. It hasn't been below 8 percent since January 2009.

Update at 8:38 a.m. ET. June Jobs Gain Revised Down:

When BLS first reported about the month of June, it estimated there had been 80,000 jobs added to payrolls. Now, it puts the gain that month at 64,000.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.