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U.S. economy gains stronger-than-expected 222,000 jobs in June

WASHINGTON — America’s strong job market just got a little better.

The U.S. economy added 222,000 jobs in June, much more than economists were expecting, the Labor Department said Friday.

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent, hovering just above its lowest level since 2001. Shortly after the Great Recession ended in 2009, unemployment peaked at 10 percent.

June was the 81st consecutive month of job gains.

Wages grew 2.5 percent in June compared with a year ago.

That’s slightly better than in prior years but well below the goal of 3.5 percent set by the Federal Reserve.

Wages are one of the last indicators to really pick up momentum since the recession ended in 2009.