Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the economy added 295,000 in February, with the unemployment rate declining to 5.5 percent. That is down from January's unemployment rate of 5.7 percent.
The gains beat the average job growth of 266,000 for the past 12 months. While this exceeds expectations, as reported by Bloomberg, of an added 235,000 jobs, there are still some important caveats.
The jobs report found that the number of discouraged workers—that is, workers who are not looking for work because they feel there are no jobs available—remained virtually unchanged at 732,000 in the past year.
Meanwhile, the civilian labor force participation rate was basically unchanged from 62.9 percent in January to 62.8 percent in February, meaning there are still many people who could be employed but are currently out of the job market.
On the brighter side, the number of long-term unemployed workers has declined by 1.1 million in the past year, although it is possible that some of those people dropped out of the labor force altogether.
As far as wages are concerned, earnings rose by 3 cents and have increased by 2 percent in the past year.
Some of the biggest job gains were in the food-service and drinking-places sector, which added 59,000 jobs. There were also gains in professional and business services, which grew by 51,000. The industry, coal, and petroleum sector lost 6,000 jobs, which is largely due to a strike by oil workers led by the United Steelworkers.