US employers add 215,000 jobs in July
WASHINGTON - The Associated PressU.S. employers added a solid 215,000 jobs in July, signaling a steadily rising job market and providing a key piece of evidence for the Federal Reserve in deciding whether the economy can withstand higher interest rates as soon as September.
The Labor Department also says the unemployment rate held at a relatively low 5.3 percent for a second straight month.
Monthly job growth has averaged 211,286 so far this year, indicating that employers are confident that the six-year recovery from the Great Recession can sustain strong consumer demand and require more workers.
Hiring has remained robust even though the economy’s overall growth rate has been subpar and pay raises have been modest for many workers. Average hourly earnings in July increased just 2.1 percent from a year earlier.
The Fed has held its key short-term rate near zero since late 2008, a policy introduced after the financial crisis to try to energize the economy through stronger borrowing, investing and spending. Now, more than a half-dozen years into the recovery, Fed Chair Janet Yellen has suggested that the economy not only can tolerate but needs higher rates.
Even as the Fed has nearly concluded that the economy is strong enough to withstand higher borrowing rates, many Americans remain anxious about a recovery defined by modest economic growth and meager pay raises.