May US jobs report in spotlight at time of concern

WASHINGTON (AP) — Economists are divided over what the Labor Department will report Friday about the nation’s May employment picture.

Most predict job gains along the lines of April’s increase of 165,000, with an unemployment rate unchanged at 7.5 percent. That’s a four-year low but still historically high. But at least a few economists are expressing caution, saying job growth for May could fall short of expectations.

The government’s monthly report comes at a time of anxiety over the U.S. economy and whether the Federal Reserve will soon scale back its extraordinary support.

Job growth has been steady this year, despite higher taxes and federal spending cuts.

Gains in jobs, home prices and some other areas of the economy have led Fed policymakers to consider scaling back the central bank’s bond purchases, which are intended to drive down long-term interest rates and encourage borrowing and spending.

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