U.S. employers extended this year's hiring surge into July by adding a solid 209,000 jobs. It was the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000, evidence that businesses are shedding the caution that had marked the 5-year-old economic recovery.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 6.2 percent from 6.1 percent as more Americans started looking for work. Not all found jobs, but the increase suggests that they are more optimistic about their prospects. The jobless aren't counted as unemployed unless they are actively seeking employment.
Average job gains over the past six months reached 244,000 in July, the best such average in eight years.
Still, the employment growth may raise alarms for investors, some of whom fear the Federal Reserve might increase short-term interest rates sooner than expected.