by Steve Hargreaves
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The job market made some headway last month, as hiring continued at a pace that beat expectations.
The economy added 195,000 new jobs in June, the Labor Department reported Friday, the same as the hiring pace in May, which was revised higher. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.6%.
Economists polled earlier in the week by CNNMoney had predicted a gain of 155,000 jobs, and a drop in unemployment to 7.5%.
Revisions from April and May showed that hiring in those months was stronger than originally thought, adding 70,000 new jobs to this year’s count.
On average, the economy has created roughly 175,000 jobs a month over the last year. That’s not bad, but it’s not great either. Economists say that level of job growth barely keeps pace with the rising population, and is a far cry from the 250,000 jobs a month created during the boom times of the mid 1990s.
Friday’s jobs report is being watched particularly closely by investors, in light of recent comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that caused wild swings in the markets.
The S&P 500 is down nearly 3% since May 22, when clues first emerged that the Fed may slow purchases of bonds and mortgages as early as this year. Bernanke later said the stimulus program could end altogether if unemployment hits 7% — which the Fed expects by the middle of next year.
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