The economy added 255,000 jobs in July—a strong showing for the second month in a row. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent, the Labor Department said on Friday.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast 180,000 job gains.
Businesses added 217,000 jobs, led by professional and business services, health care and finance. Federal, state and local governments added 38,000.
Also encouraging: Job gains for May and June were revised up by a total 18,000. May’s was revised to 24,000 from 11,000, and June’s to 292,000 from 287,000.
Average hourly wages rose 8 cents to $25.69 and are up 2.6% the past year, maintaining the annual rise posted in June. Earnings growth has picked up moderately this year from the roughly 2% pace that has prevailed in the recovery but has yet to surge despite the near-normal unemployment rate. The Federal Reserve is looking for stronger pay increases and inflation before lifting interest rates again.
The July report could help determine whether the Fed will raise interest rates in the fall.