Published: May 02, 2014 7:23 AM EDT
Updated: May 02, 2014 11:12 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - Analysts will be watching closely Friday as the government releases its latest snapshot of the nation's labor market.
    
Economists are predicting that U.S. employers added 210,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate dipped to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent.
    
The health of the economy, which has made a slow and sometimes bumpy recovery from the Great Recession of 2009, is certain to be among the key issues in the November mid-term elections.
    
One question about the figures for last month will be the extent to which bad weather in many parts of the country interfered with business growth and might have stunted new hiring to some degree.
    
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since February, more disappointing news for an economy that is supposed to be gaining momentum.
    
The Labor Department on Thursday reported that a seasonally adjusted 344,000 people applied for jobless assistance. That's up 14,000 from the previous week and the most since late February. Economists had expected a drop. The less-volatile 4-week average rose by 3,000 to 320,000