The number of jobs in the United States fell by 131,000 in July, leaving the unemployment rate flat at 9.5% compared to June and the number of unemployed persons unchanged, at 14.6 million, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday, August 6.

Federal government employment fell, as 143,000 temporary Census workers hired completed their work, and the private-sector payroll employment edged up by 71,000, the Labor Department reported in its July release.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a slight rise in the jobs rate to 9.6%, with overall employment falling 65,000 and private-sector hiring increasing 90,000.

“The ‘Great Recession’ has officially morphed into the ‘Great Stall,’” said Steve Blitz, senior economist with New York-based Majestic Research, in an analyst note. “There are no signs in this morning’s report on July employment of building momentum for the second half of this year. If anything, there are more signs of a deteriorating labor situation–beginning with the sharp downward revision to June private payrolls from 83,000 to 31,000.”

Similarly, Robert Dye, senior economist for PNC Financial Services, Pittsburgh, said in a phone interview that the jobs report was not good news for the economy.

“It shows an economy that’s still struggling to make the transition into a self-sustaining expansion,” Dye said. “Private sector job creation has stepped down from earlier in the year and is being overwhelmed by losses on the government side.”

Governmental job losses include the laid-off Census workers as well as 48,000 total job losses in state and local government staff.

“That drag from the temp Census workers is going to lag going forward. “We’re going to see the drag from the loss of temporary Census workers decline in coming months, but we need to see private sector hiring increase to believe that we’ve made that transition into a self-sustaining recovery,” Dye noted. “It is not as strong as we would like, but it is consistent with the last two recoveries in 1990-91 and 2000, where we had weak job markets even as GDP growth moved into positive territory.”

Average hourly earnings gained 0.2% in July after stalling in June, and average weekly hours increased back to 34.2 after slipping to 34.1 in June. In July, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 6.6 million, or 44.9% of unemployed persons.

Read a story about June’s jobs report from the archives of InvestmentAdvisor.com.