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US economy adds 195K jobs, jobless rate 7.6 pct.

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

(AP) — U.S. employers added 195,000 jobs in June and hiring was more robust in the two previous months than earlier estimated. The gains raise hopes for a stronger economy in the second half of 2013.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy also added 20,000 more jobs in May and 50,000 more in April than initially reported. The unemployment rate stayed at 7.6 percent, but for a good reason: More people started looking for work. The government counts people as unemployed only if they are searching for jobs.

Americans' paychecks rose at a healthy pace and have outpaced inflation in the past year. Average hourly pay increased 10 cents to $24.01. That's 2.2 percent higher than a year ago. Over the 12 months ending in May, consumer prices rose 1.4 percent.

Stock index futures rose shortly after the report was released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. And the yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped from 2.56 percent to 2.65 percent, a sign that investors think the economy is improving.

The economy has added an average of 202,000 jobs a month for the past six months, up from 180,000 in the previous six. Hiring and consumer confidence have increase despite higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

Further job growth could lower the unemployment rate and help the economy rebound after a weak start this year. If growth accelerated and unemployment fell, the Federal Reserve might start to scale back its bond purchases before the year ends. The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low.

Despite the solid pace of hiring, the economy is growing sluggishly. It expanded at a 1.8 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter. Most analysts expect growth at roughly the same subpar rate in the April-June quarter. more...

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