The national unemployment rate reversed its steady downward direction in July, ticking up slightly to 6.2% with the addition of 209,000 jobs, the Department of Labor reported.
However, a greater number of people entered the labor market last month, a sign that prospects could be improving for discouraged and long-term unemployed workers. July saw 741,000 discouraged workers, down by 247,000 year-over-year. However, the number of long-term unemployed, those employed part-time for economic reasons and the civilian labor force participation rate were little changed in July.
The majority of the job gains were in professional and business services, which added 47,000 jobs in July. Manufacturing took second place at a gain of 28,000 jobs, followed by retail trade at 27,000.
The construction industry also made some progress, adding 22,000 jobs.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, building material and garden supply stores saw a 2.6% boost in the size of their payrolls.
July's overall job growth was markedly below the strong pace in June, which, when upwardly revised, saw the creation of 298,000 jobs.
The slowdown could provide an incentive for the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low for some time still, easing into a gradual recovery.