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Solid US job gains expected for 6th straight month

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 1, 2014 at 6:31 am •  Published: August 1, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a host of reports this week pointing to a healthier U.S. economy, analysts expect Friday's monthly jobs report to send a similar message.

Economists predict that the government will say employers added 225,000 jobs in July, according to a survey by data provider FactSet. That would follow June's big 288,000 increase. And it would mark the sixth straight month of gains above 200,000, the longest such stretch since 1997.

The Labor Department will issue the jobs report at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

This year's burst of hiring has lowered the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent from 6.7 percent at the start of the year. The rate is now the lowest it's been in six years.

Economists think the rate will remain at 6.1 percent for July, particularly if more people start looking for jobs. The government counts people as unemployed only if they're actively seeking work. So when more people start looking, the unemployment rate can rise or remain flat — even if hiring picks up.

More encouraging economic news could stoke fears among investors, though, that the Federal Reserve will decide to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate sooner than expected. Such fears likely contributed to Thursday's 317-point plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average — its worst day since February.

The economy strengthened significantly during the April-June quarter, the government said Wednesday, after contracting sharply in the first three months of the year. Last quarter's bounce-back assuaged fears that the economy hadn't been strong enough to support this year's rapid hiring.

The economy expanded at a 4 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter after a steep 2.1 percent contraction in the first quarter. Americans stepped up their spending, particularly on autos, furniture and other big-ticket items. Businesses also spent more on plants, office buildings and equipment.

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