WASHINGTON — U.S. employers slowed their hiring in July but still added a solid 164,000 jobs to an economy that appears poised to extend its decade-long expansion.
The unemployment rate remained at 3.7% for a second straight month, the government said Friday. Average hourly earnings rose 3.2% from a year ago, up from a 3% year-over-year gain in June.
Though the pace of hiring has slowed this year, one reason is that a growing share of Americans already have jobs. Unemployment is near a half-century low. The overall U.S. economy remains on firm footing, and last month the expansion became the longest on record.
"This report is a sigh of relief," said Daniel Zhao, a senior economist for the jobs site Glassdoor. "It had good solid numbers and was largely in line with expectations."
Still, the economy has faced some tumult as President Donald Trump has escalated his trade conflict with China.
The Federal Reserve has acted to try to sustain the expansion in part because some of the benefits are only now reaching America's lower-income communities. The Fed on Wednesday cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a decade to try to counter the impact of Trump's trade wars, stubbornly low inflation and global weakness.
As Trump's trade conflicts escalate, the economy and the job market could weaken. Recession fears could increase. But for now, hiring appears solid.
"We're really at a sweet spot despite all the negatives swirling around us," said Robert Frick, corporate economist at Navy Federal Credit Union. Frick said the slowdown in monthly job gains was organic given the size of past gains and the length of expansion.