The rate was 9.5 percent in June after the U.S. economy lost 125,000 jobs, mostly because of the end of 225,000 temporary jobs linked to the 2010 U.S. Census.
The end of the decennial census effort again hurt the employment picture, with another 143,000 census-related jobs ending in July, and overall government employment fell by 202,000 jobs.
Private-sector employment did add 71,000 jobs last month, with about half the figure coming in the manufacturing sector.
The statistics bureau said the official number of unemployed people stayed at 14.6 million, with 6.6 million of those having been without work for at least 27 weeks. About 1.2 million people are considered "discouraged" and have stopped looking for work because they don't think there are jobs available for them.
The White House apparently had expected bad employment news, sending Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner out early this week to issue a warning. Geithner appeared Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" saying, "It's possible you're going to have a couple months where (the unemployment rate) goes up" because more people will be re-entering the job market.