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.
Most likely, the Obama administration will point to the decline in the unemployment number and the consistent month-to-month growth of more than 200,000 jobs as part of its push that "middle-class economics" works.
House Speaker John Boehner released a statement on the new report, hitting Obama for vetoing a bill mandating the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama's attempt to tax 529 college-savings plans.
"Simply put, most Americans aren't seeing the positive economic news translate into improvements in their daily lives," Boehner said.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
Eric Garcia is a staff correspondent for National Journal. He previously was a transparency reporter for MarketWatch, where he reported on financial regulation issues. His work has also appeared in the Southern Political Report, Salon, the American Prospect and the New Republic. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and covered politics for its campus paper, the Daily Tar Heel.