WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers created 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year, and the unemployment rate ticked up. The dismal jobs figures could fan fears that the economy is sputtering.
The Labor Department also says the economy created far fewer jobs in the previous two months than first thought. It revised those figures down to show 49,000 fewer jobs created.
The unemployment rate rose to 8.2 percent from 8.1 percent in April, the first increase in 11 months.
The economy is averaging just 73,000 jobs per month over the past two months -- roughly a third of jobs created per month in the first quarter.
Weak job growth could damage President Barack Obama's reelection prospects. Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger, has made the economy the central theme of his campaign.
Meanwhile, consumer spending edged up modestly in April but personal income growth was the slowest in five months, raising concerns about the ability of Americans to keep spending in the future.
The Commerce Department says consumer spending increased 0.3 percent in April following a revised 0.2 percent gain in March. Americans' income grew 0.2 percent in April, the poorest showing since incomes fell 0.1 percent in November. The April gain was just half the 0.4 percent March rise.
Consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. Economists hope consumers will keep spending to support further economic growth. But the concern is that incomes have been lagging in this sub-par recovery, meaning households have less to spend. The small April income gain will add to those worries.
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