(CNBC) Payroll growth turned sluggish in July after two robust months, though the unemployment rate edged lower and the overall jobs picture continued to look solid, according to Labor Department numbers released Friday.
Total nonfarm payrolls increased by 157,000 for the month, below the 190,000 expected in a Reuters survey of economists and the lowest gain since March. The unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 3.9 percent, as expected and is around its lowest level in nearly 50 years.
In the key wages category, average hourly earnings also met expectations, increasing 2.7 percent over the same period a year ago. The Federal Reserve is closely watching the wages component as it seeks to meet its 2 percent inflation target.
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