Market Watch with Rob Finnerty

The national unemployment rate declined slightly in July, dropping to 7.4 percent. Compared to a year ago, that is down 0.8 percentage points. Unemployment measured 8.2 percent in July 2012.

Job creation continued at a steady pace, increasing by 162,000 in July. Business sectors seeing job growth included wholesale and retail trade, hospitality and leisure, and financial and business services. Hiring in other sectors remained steady, including manufacturing, health care, construction, mining and logging, transportation and public employment.

The number of long-term unemployed, those jobless for 27 weeks or more, remained steady at 4.2 million workers. Long-term unemployment accounted for 37 percent of the unemployed in July. Compared to a year ago, the long-term unemployed numbered 5.2 million workers and accounted for 40.7 percent of the unemployed in July 2012.

Unemployment figures for August will be released on Friday, Sept. 6.