On the surface, the Washington area job market was almost exactly the same in July as it was in June, according to Labor Department data released last week.

The region added 80,600 jobs in the year ended in July, compared with 79,000 in the year ended in June. Its unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, compared with 3.3 percent in June. Both numbers suggest that local employment situation is chugging along at the same healthy rate as it was earlier in the year -- no better, no worse.

But there are some early signs that the types of jobs the region is creating are changing.

Month-to-month data for individual employment categories can be volatile, so it's too soon to reach sweeping conclusions. But the two categories that have contributed most to job creation in the last year -- construction and business and professional services -- appeared to be adding jobs at a slightly slower pace in the year ended in July. Other industries, such as information, education, and health, helped pick up the slack.

The number of construction jobs rose 6.7 percent in that 12-month period, compared with 7.4 percent in the year ended in June. The number of professional and business-service jobs, a category that includes many government contractors, added jobs at a 4.8 percent pace in the year ended in July and 5.2 percent in the year ended in June. The region added 400 information-related jobs, a category that includes the telecommunications and publishing industries, after shedding them in the past three years.

If the trend holds in the months ahead, it could signal that the region's economic recovery is broadening beyond the government contracting and real estate sectors.

-- Neil Irwin