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/ Source: Associated Press

U.S. businesses were much less likely to boost pay in the third quarter than in previous months, even as hiring remained healthy, a sign that wage gains may remain weak in the coming months. A quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 24 percent of companies increased wages and salaries in the July-September quarter. That's down from 43 percent in the April-June quarter and the first drop after three straight increases.

Yet the firms still added jobs at a healthy pace, which usually pushes wages higher as employers compete for workers. A measure of hiring in the survey dipped in the third quarter but remained near a three-year high. The figures suggest that the number of people out of work remains high enough that companies aren't under any pressure to raise pay. And just one-third of respondents said they expect their companies will boost wages in the October-December quarter, about the same proportion as three months ago.The NABE surveyed 76 of its member economists in late September. The economists work for companies or private trade associations.

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-- The Associated Press