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U.S. businesses raise workers' pay at fastest pace in 11 years

U.S. businesses raise workers' pay at fastest pace in 11 years
Freshly cut stacks of bills make their way down the line at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

U.S. private-sector workers received the biggest pay raise in 11 years in the first three months of the year, a sign that the tight job market is slowly lifting wages.

The Labor Department said wages and salaries in the private sector rose 1% in the January-through-March quarter compared with the previous quarter. That's the biggest gain since the first quarter of 2007, before the Great Recession.

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The gain was boosted partly by healthy year-end commissions that are typically paid to sales workers at the beginning of the year. In the past year, wages for private-sector workers rose 2.9%, the healthiest increase since the third quarter of 2008.

The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1%, and employers are hiring at a healthy clip.

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