WASHINGTON: The United States continued to add new jobs last month but at a slower pace, more signs the economy is weakening, although the jobless rate held steady, the government reported Friday.

US employers added a net 164,000 workers in July, still fairly solid, but June's level was revised down sharply, pointing to a general softening in labor markets this year but largely in line with expectations.

The jobless rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent.

The long-suffering retail sector continued to shed workers and workforces also shrank in information services, utilities and construction.

Hiring slowed sharply in transportation, warehousing and construction, but was steady in health care.

However, the gain in June was revised down to 193,000, far slower than the 224,000 originally reported — bringing the average over the last three months to 140,000, well below the 237,000 recorded in July last year.

Wages rose 3.2 percent, year on year, more than keeping pace with inflation as the supply of available workers fell, squeezing employers seeking to attract and retain talent.

Despite the slowdown in job creation, the pace was more than enough to keep the jobless rate trending lower. The labor force grew slightly even though the unemployment rate was unchanged, suggesting new job seekers easily found work.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Press), 2019