WASHINGTON -- Economists say that if today's employment figures live up to predictions, they could boost hopes that the U.S. economy has rebounded after a grim start to the year.

FactSet says economists forecast that employers added 220,000 jobs in May, near the monthly average gain this year of 214,000 jobs.

Analysts predict that the unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent from 6.3 percent. But if it did, it will likely be because more people out of work started looking for jobs in May.

Many economists predicted late last year that growth would finally pick up in 2014 from the steady but modest pace that has persisted for the past four years.

But the economy actually contracted in the first three months of this year as a blast of cold weather kept people home.

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