Businesses did more hiring in July and that boded well for older workers. Some 162,000 jobs were created last month and the unemployment rate for people 55-plus dropped from 5.3 percent to 5 percent.
Among older men, the rate inched up to 5.6 percent from 5.5 percent in June. The situation was much better for older women. They saw their jobless rate fall to 4.9 percent in July from 5.4 percent a month ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in July, a four-year low, from 7.6 percent in June.
"The job market has admirably weathered the fiscal headwinds, tax increases and government spending cuts," Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, told CNN. This bodes well for the next year when those headwinds are set to fade."
Zandi pointed out that many of the jobs created in recent months have been in relatively low-paying industries such as leisure and hospitality, retail trade and professional services. For the recovery to gain momentum, he said more higher-paying jobs in manufacturing and in the government were needed.
Some 11.5 million people are without work, a slight improvement from the previous month. But the number of the long-term unemployed-people out of work for six months or more-was at 4.2 million, the BLS said. That's a decline of 921,000 from the previous year.
In another measure of the jobs picture, a survey showed that employers planned to reduce payrolls by 37,701 workers in July, down 4.2 percent from June, according to the outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas. July workforce reductions were led by the health care sector and the aerospace and defense industries.
Since Jan. 1, companies announced nearly 300,000 job cuts. That's 7 percent less than what was announced in the first seven months of 2012.
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