WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs in July, a second straight month of robust gains that underscore the economy's vitality as it enters a ninth year of expansion.
The Labor Department says the unemployment rate slipped to 4.3 percent, matching a 16-year low first reached in May.
Growth in Americans' paychecks, however, remains stubbornly slow. Average hourly pay rose by 2.5 percent from a year earlier, the same tepid annual pace as in June. That's below the 3.5 percent to 4 percent that is typical when the unemployment rate is this low.
Still, the hiring data suggests employers remain optimistic about their businesses and future consumer demand. The solid job gains may also fuel greater consumer spending, which would bolster economic growth.
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