Hiring picked up slightly in July and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.1 percent, an optimistic sign after the worst day on Wall Street in nearly three years.
The Labor Department says employers added 117,000 jobs last month. That's an improvement from the past two months.
"That's not great, but it's pretty good," said Chris Low, chief economist for FTN Financial on the Marketplace Morning Report on WBEZ.
However, the unemployment rate fell partly because some unemployed workers stopped looking for work. That means they are no longer counted as unemployed.
Even so, the mild gain may ease investors' concerns after the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted more than 500 points on Thursday over concerns that the U.S. may be entering another recession.
The economy needs twice as many net jobs per month to rapidly reduce unemployment, and Low points out that it could take a year or more of such job growth to truly turn the labor picture around.
"We're just not doing enough in this economy to pull this unemployment rate down," Low said.
The rate has topped 9 percent in every month except two since the recession officially ended in June 2009.