More robust US job market adds 257,000 positions as pay jumps

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WASHINGTON (AP) — One private economist says today's January jobs report shows that this is going to be "the year of the American consumer." Russell Price of the financial services firm Ameriprise says strong job growth will bring "a pickup in wages and salaries."

Wages posted their biggest jump in six years last month, as employers added 257,000 jobs. And hiring turns out to have been far stronger in November and December than had been estimated.

The report offers the most compelling evidence to date that the U.S. job market is finally enjoying the hiring and pay growth typical of a healthy recovery, some five and a-half years after the official end of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate inched up from 5.6 percent to 5.7 percent -- but that was because more than 1 million Americans began looking for jobs. That suggests Americans have grown more confident about their prospects.

Stocks have been higher after the release of the report. Investors are anticipating that the burst in hiring will result in stronger economic growth, as well as higher interest rates.

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141-a-11-(Diane Swonk, chief economist, Mesirow Financial, in AP interview)-"than a tsunami"-Mesirow Financial chief economist Diane Swonk says the U.S. economy needs to continue to strenghten to make sure the turmoil around the world does not derail it. (6 Feb 2015)

<<CUT *141 (02/06/15)££ 00:11 "than a tsunami"

142-c-21-(Ben Thomas, AP correspondent)-"to 5.7 percent"-AP correspondent Ben Thomas reports January was another strong month for job growth. (6 Feb 2015)

<<CUT *142 (02/06/15)££ 00:21 "to 5.7 percent"

APPHOTO NYBZ155: In this Friday, Jan. 23, 2015 photo, job applicant Rafael Ferrer, 49, left, shakes hands with a representative of the Hilton Bentley Miami Beach hotel during a job fair at the Hospitality Institute, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Miami. The institute is part of Miami Dade College which offers training and job placement assistance in the hospitality industry to inner city residents. The Labor Department releases employment data for January on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (23 Jan 2015)

<<APPHOTO NYBZ155 (01/23/15)££

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