U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, much better than expected

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Job growth posted a surprise increase in January, demonstrating again that the U.S. labor market is solid and poised to support broader economic growth.

Nonfarm payrolls expanded by 353,000 for the month, much better than the Dow Jones estimate for 185,000, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. The unemployment rate held at 3.7%, against the estimate for 3.8%.

Wage growth also showed strength, as average hourly earnings increased 0.6%, double the monthly estimate. On a year-over-year basis, wages jumped 4.5%, well above the 4.1% forecast.

While the report demonstrated the resilience of the U.S. economy, it also could raise questions about how soon the Federal Reserve will be able to lower interest rates.

Job growth was widespread on the month, led by professional and business services with 74,000. Other significant contributors included health care (70,000), retail trade (45,000), government (36,000), social assistance (30,000) and manufacturing (23,000).

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