Stronger U.S. job gains pointing to stronger economy

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WASHINGTON (AP)—The 5-year-old U.S. recovery is gaining momentum from a surprisingly robust job market and moving the economy closer to full health.

Employers added 288,000 jobs in June and helped cut the unemployment rate from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent, the lowest since 2008. It was the fifth straight monthly gain above 200,000—the best such stretch since the late 1990s tech boom.

The stock market signaled its approval. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 92 points to top 17,000 for the first time.

The breadth and consistency of the job growth are striking in part because of how poorly the year began. The economy shrank at a steep 2.9 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter as a harsh winter contributed to the sharpest contraction since the depths of the recession.

Yet employers have shrugged off that setback. They’ve kept hiring.

The unemployment rate dipped from 6.3 percent in May to its lowest level since the financial crisis struck with full force in the fall of 2008, when the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.

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