WASHINGTON -- 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.
CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
AP Economics Writer
The Associated Press