WASHINGTON – U.S. employers added 156,000 jobs last month, a decent gain but also a sign that hiring has slowed from its strong pace last year.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 5 percent from 4.9 percent, but mostly for a positive reason: More Americans came off the sidelines and looked for work, though not all found jobs.
Job growth has averaged 178,000 a month so far this year, down from last year's pace of 229,000. Still, hiring at that level is enough to lower the unemployment rate over time. Economists have expected the pace to slow as the supply of unemployed workers declines.
The hiring figures may keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise the short-term interest rate it controls by December.