Payrolls rise less than forecast, U.S. jobless rate falls

Amazon Hiring

Amazon.com, the world’s biggest Web retailer, announced in July it is adding more than 5,000 full-time jobs at U.S. warehouses to meet demand. The Seattle-based company also is hiring 2,000 customer-service staff, including part-time and seasonal workers.

Ford, the second-largest U.S. automaker, reported second- quarter per-share profit excluding some items that beat the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said it’ll hire 3,000 salaried employees this year, 800 more than originally planned.

“The automotive sector of our economy has now contributed greatly to overall growth during this expansion,” Ellen Hughes- Cromwick, chief economist at Ford, said on a conference call yesterday. “Job and income gains are positive and interest rates remained relatively low.”

Households continue to keep spending on big-ticket items such as automobiles. Cars and light trucks sold at a 15.6 million annualized rate in July and 15.9 million the prior month, the strongest back-to-back readings since late 2007, according to figures yesterday from Ward’s Automotive Group.

Consumer Sentiment

Sustained gains in employment help explain recent increases in consumer sentiment. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose last week to the strongest reading since January 2008.

The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index, released yesterday, showed manufacturing expanded in July at the fastest pace in more than two years, sparked by surges in orders and production that signal companies are growing more optimistic about the economic outlook.

The Fed may begin tapering the pace of its asset purchases in September, according to a growing number of economists surveyed by Bloomberg from July 18 to July 22.

“Labor market conditions have shown further improvement in recent months, on balance, but the unemployment rate remains elevated,” policy makers said in their statement this week at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Washington. The Federal Open Market Committee also said it will maintain its $85 billion in monthly bond buying. “Economic growth will pick up from its recent pace and the unemployment rate will gradually decline.”

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