Unemployment Falls to 7.4%, a 4-Year Low

...but dig deeper and jobs report starts to look pretty bad
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2013 7:57 AM CDT
An unemployment assistance poster hangs in a Georgia Department of Labor career center, July 18, 2013, in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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(Newser) – Unemployment fell to a 4.5-year low of 7.4% in July, after employers added 162,000 jobs, the Labor Department announced today. But don't celebrate. That 162,000 figure was the lowest since March, and significantly less than analysts were expecting—those surveyed by Bloomberg expected to see a 185,000 bump. And the report was otherwise miserable, showing a decrease in both hourly earnings and hours worked for the first time since October.

And while the unemployment rate fell, actual labor force participation remained basically flat at 63.4%, the Wall Street Journal reports. The bad news wasn't confined to July, either; the report revised May and June's numbers downward as well. ("Remember, these numbers have a history of being upwardly revised more often than not," writes Steven Russolillo for the Journal; he calls the revision "a bit surprising.") The dollar dropped precipitously on the report. "It is still a difficult job market," says one economist. "The impact on employment from the sequestration is still to work its way through the economy." (Read more Labor Department stories.)

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