The US added 163,000 new jobs in July, ahead of economists' expectations and offering some relief for President Barack Obama as the economy emerges as the key battleground of the 2012 election.
Private companies added 172,000 jobs last month, while governments shed 9,000 positions. Most economists had expected the latest nonfarm payroll figure to be around 95,000.
While the number was far better than expected it was not enough to bring down the unemployment rate, which remains at 8.3%. The labour department said that since the beginning of this year, employment growth has averaged 151,000 per month, about the same as the average monthly gain of 153,000 in 2011.
The labour market has slowed sharply after strong gains of over 200,000 a month in the winter, spelling trouble for Obama ahead of the November 6 election.
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