WASHINGTON (AFP) - JPMorgan Chase on Wednesday reported a hefty jump in earnings to 3.3 billion dollars in the first quarter, as the massive US bank appeared to continue its journey back to health. The New York-based financial giant reported a 55 percent increase in earnings compared with the 2.1 billion dollars posted in the first quarter of 2009. The firms net income of 3.3 billion dollars reflected another strong quarter, said Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, who saw solid performance at the banks troubled investment arm, as well as other branches. The bank said it would also add 9,000 new employees to its staff in the United States. But there was some bad news from the firms high street banking operations. Unfortunately, these good results were partially offset by high losses in the consumer credit portfolios, Dimon said. Still, the earnings were higher than expected by analysts, which points to a continued recovery for a bank that had required a 25 billion dollar bailout from the US government at the height of the financial crisis. The bank has since repaid that sum, and last year saw its profits double for the full year to 11.7 billion dollars. The profit for this quarter amounted to 74 cents a share, better than the 64 cents expected by most analysts. That was enough to send the companys share price surging over three percent in pre-market trading. JP Morgans results kicked off an earnings season for banks which is expected to be a strong indicator of the state of the US economic recovery. While the economy still faces challenges, there have been clear and broad-based improvements in underlying trends, Dimon said. We believe these improvements will continue and are hopeful they will gather momentum, resulting in a strong recovery.