WASHINGTON (AP) Employers throttled back on layoffs in July, cutting just 247,000 jobs, fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate dipped to 9.4%. It was a better-than-expected showing that offered a strong signal that the recession is finally ending. The new snapshot, released by the Labor Department on Friday, also offered other encouraging news: workers' hours nudged up after sinking to a record low in June, and paychecks grew after having fallen or flat-lined in some cases. To be sure, the report still indicates the jobs market is on shaky ground. But the new figures were better than many analysts expected and offered welcomed improvements to a jobs market that has been clobbered by recession. Analysts were forecasting job losses to slow to around 320,000 and the unemployment rate to tick up to 9.6%. The dip in the unemployment rate from June's 9.5% was the first since April 2008. One of the reasons the rate went down, however, was because hundreds of thousands of people left the labor force. Fewer people, though, did report being unemployed.