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New Gov’t Data Shows Strong Year of Labor Market Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. — America generated 2.95 million new positions in the labor market in 2014, its best year since 1999. The yearlong job growth led the United States to lower its unemployment rate to 5.6 percent, a new post-recession low.

Last year culminated with the labor market adding 252,000 jobs in December, according to government data released Friday morning. The U.S. labor market averaged a gain of 246,000 jobs per month last year, with an average of 284,000 jobs gained in the final four months of the year.

The job growth was broad-based throughout a wide range of middle-class industries, as well as the professional and business services industries.

Some economists believe the U.S. recovery will spring forward even more in 2015, despite expected economic weakness in Europe and China.

However, Friday's government report did show one sign of weakness. Average hourly wages dipped by 5 cents in December vs. the prior month, coming in at $24.57 per hour.

According to the Washington Post, the surprise wage decline shows that the nation has not yet reached "full employment," meaning that workers have not reached the point where they have leverage, and hence the opportunity to see pay raises.

"I think the unemployment rate might have to go down to the low 5's before we start to see some upward pressure on wages,” Alan MacEachin, an economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union, told the newspaper. “There are still too many folks out there that are willing to grab the jobs that are available.”

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