Jobs report could help clarify a muddy US economic picture

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In this April 22, 2015 photo, a sign at a recruiting station for Leslie’s Pool supplies boasts that it is a great place to work during a National Career Fairs job fair, in Chicago. The Labor Department releases employment data for April on Friday, May 8, 2015. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

WASHINGTON (AP) – After a disappointing March, economists are expecting a jobs rebound to show up when the Labor Department releases employment data for April today.

Economists surveyed by FactSet forecast that job growth rebounded to 222,500, from 126,000 in March. The March gain was the weakest in 15 months. Economists have also forecast that the unemployment rate dipped last month to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in March.

Home sales staged a big comeback in March.

And service firms, such as restaurants, retailers and banks, grew at a faster pace in April than in March, according to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management.

April’s jobs report should shed light on whether the first quarter’s slump was temporary or whether a more persistent weakness is holding back the economy.

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