Applications for jobless benefits drop 24,000

Employers added 195,000 jobs in June, which was about 30,000 more than expected, and the previous two months were revised up by 70,000, giving the average a boost to 202,000. 

The unemployment rate stayed at 7.6 percent last month. While it has dropped from 8.2 percent since last year, progress is still much slower than policymakers want to see as the economy continues its recovery.

The figures were boosted by automakers pulling back or eliminating their usual July layoffs to prepare for new models. 

Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is back on Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss the economy and when the central bank could begin winding down its massive monetary stimulus plan. 

He told a House panel on Wednesday that the Fed would continue providing stimulus to the economy for as long as necessary. 

But he cautioned lawmakers that there is only so much the Fed can do in the face of budget cuts and a lack of attention by Congress to solving long-term debt issues. 

He has suggested that lawmakers retract short-term cuts, which aren't likely to provide the needed relief down the road from massive debt, in favor of a long-range outlook on the nation's finances.