Steady job gains could help US economy rebound

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest monthly employment data is due out Friday and economists expect June was another solid hiring month and that it could mean a stronger second half of the year for the U.S. economy.

Several reports Wednesday suggested that hiring remained solid in June, though perhaps not enough to reduce unemployment. Applications for unemployment benefits have stayed below 350,000 for most of the year, signaling fewer layoffs.

And a closely watched gauge of the U.S. service sector showed that such companies stepped up hiring last month.

Overall, economists predict that the government will report that employers added 165,000 jobs last month, roughly in line with May’s increase, but the jobless rate isn’t expected to change from its current 7.6 percent.

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