WASHINGTON — Solid job growth in July, with the economy adding 215,000 net new positions, was accompanied by an uptick in wages that economists said were encouraging signs that pave the way for the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time since 2006.

“The evidence overall is clear that the labor market has improved dramatically in recent years,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor, an online job search and recruiting site.

Friday’s Labor Department report was in line with expectations, including the unemployment rate holding steady at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

But Chamberlain said such “a boring report can be a good jobs report” because it shows the economy is back on track after the Great Recession.

“Fed officials got strong reassurance that it’s time to return rates to normal levels, because these are indeed normal times,” he said.

Wage growth improved, with average hourly earnings increasing by 5 cents to $24.99 after declining by a penny in June.

Although wages are only growing slowly, they were up 2.1 percent over the 12 months that ended July 31, well above the low rate of inflation.

In another small but hopeful sign, the average workweek inched up for the first time in five months. The 34.6 hours worked per week, up 0.1 hours from June, matched the highest level since the end of the Great Recession.

Job creation was down from June’s upwardly revised figure of 231,000, but was in line with analysts’ expectations.

The Labor Department revised up job growth in May and June by a modest 14,000 net new positions. That means the economy has averaged 235,000 net new jobs from May through July. The figure is down from a 246,000 average for the 12 months ended July 31, but is still seen as solid for the recovery.

The unemployment rate remained at its lowest level since April 2008, in the early days of the Great Recession. The labor force grew by 69,000 in July after shrinking the previous month, when some discouraged workers stopped looking for jobs.

But the percentage of adults in the labor force remained extremely low at 62.6 percent. The last time it was lower was in 1977.

That was one of the signs that the jobs market still hasn’t returned to normal, said Claire McKenna, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group.

“It’s true that the pace of monthly job growth has accelerated and that overall unemployment is low, but a number of indicators … suggest the economy still is not fully recovered from the recession,” she said.

The number of people out of work for six months or longer increased by 59,000 in July, to 2.2 million. And though annual wage growth has improved, it still is well below the 3.5 percent to 4 percent that the economy needs, McKenna said.

“The Fed should really continue to wait for more significant and sustained improvement in the labor market before acting to raise interest rates,” she said.

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