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Another month of solid job growth expected

Washington (AP) -- A survey of economists found raised expectations of job growth in the employment data to be released by the Labor Department Friday morning.

Economists in the FactSet survey predicted employers added 196,000 jobs last month, nearly as strong as November's robust gain of 203,000. The unemployment rate is forecast to remain at a five-year low of 7 percent.

Another month of 200,000 or so new jobs would suggest employers are hiring at a sustained pace. That's what policymakers and job hunters have hoped for since the Great Recession ended more than four-and-a-half years ago.

Recent data from other sectors have also painted a picture of an economy on the steady rise.

Analysts now estimate the economy expanded at a healthy annual rate of 3 percent to 3.5 percent in the October-December quarter.

 
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