The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday. The unemployment rate edged up to 6.2 percent.
Economists had predicted 225,000 new jobs created, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. In June, stronger-than-expected employment numbers surprised Wall Street and economist when the Labor Department said a revised 298,000 jobs had been created.
The economy strengthened significantly during the April-June quarter, the government said Wednesday, after contracting sharply in the first three months of the year. Last quarter's bounce-back assuaged fears that the economy hadn't been strong enough to support this year's rapid hiring.
The economy expanded at a 4 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter after a steep 2.1 percent contraction in the first quarter. Americans stepped up their spending, particularly on autos, furniture and other big-ticket items. Businesses also spent more on plants, office buildings and equipment.
Signs suggest that employers have kept hiring at a healthy pace. ADP, a private payroll provider, said Wednesday that businesses added 218,000 jobs in July, with most industries showing solid gains. (ADP's figures capture only private businesses and sometimes diverge from the government's more comprehensive numbers.)