By Jim Puzzanghera
February 6, 2015

The economy had another robust month of job growth in January, adding 257,000 net new positions and producing the best wage gains in more than six years, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.7%, but that was because 703,000 more people entered the labor force, a positive sign for the jobs market, the report said.

In addition to January’s job growth, the Labor Department said the economy added an additional 147,000 net new jobs combined in November and December.
Wage growth over the past 12 months

The upward revisions mean the U.S. economy added just over 1 million net new jobs in the three months ending Jan. 30, the first time that’s happened since 1997.

“The labor market is gaining momentum,” said Sophia Koropeckyj, senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “Employers have strong enough demand for their products and services that they really have to start ramping up their hiring.”

Economists had forecast the January employment report would show a gain of 230,000 jobs and the unemployment rate would hold steady at 5.6%, the lowest since June 2008.

Wage gains were surprisingly strong in January, rebounding from a disappointing December.

Average hourly earnings rose by 12 cents last month to $24.75 after a disappointing drop of 5 cents the previous month. The 0.5% gain in January was the best since late 2008.

“We have been expecting both stronger wage growth and stronger labor force growth. Certainly this is a good start, but let’s see if it continues,” said Gus Faucher, senior economist at PNC Financial Services Group.

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