The rate was down two ticks from June's 7.6 percent but economists had been expecting more than 180,000 jobs to be added to the economy.
The bureau said the number of unemployed persons dropped by 300,000 to 11.5 million in July. The long-term unemployed, counting those without jobs for 27 weeks or more, was little changed at 4.2 million, the bureau said.
There were also 8.2 million in the month listed as part-time workers who work less than full time not by choice, but due to economic reasons.
An additional 2.4 million are deemed marginally attached to the labor force, which includes 988,000 who are termed discouraged workers who believe there is no job available for them and 1.4 million persons who have dropped out of the labor force to attend school or meet family obligations.
That number is little changed over 12 months, the bureau said.
"There are encouraging signs in the July report, but the pace and quality of job growth is still troubling," said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project.
"Four years into the recovery, nearly 20 million Americans are unemployed or unable to get full-time work, wages are down and too many new jobs are falling at the low end of the pay scale," Owens said.
July's gains included 47,000 jobs in retail, which has added 352,000 in the past 12 months. The hospitality industry picked up 38,000 jobs in July and is now up 381,000 jobs over 12 months,
Financial firms added 15,000 jobs in July. Wholesale trades gained 14,000. Manufacturing and healthcare were "essentially unchanged," the bureau said.
Average hourly wages in the month dropped 2 cents to $23.98 per hour after gaining 10 cents in June.