A better jobs report than expected today, at least when it comes to new jobs: 295,000 of them were added last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5%, the AP reports. Economists had expected 240,000 new jobs, with the unemployment rate expected to drop from 5.7% to 5.6%, the Wall Street Journal reports. The good news: February's new jobs number is the 12th consecutive monthly gain above 200,000. The unemployment rate of 5.5% is the lowest since May 2008, CNN reports. But as the AP notes, the drop happened "largely because some people out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed."
January's numbers were revised downward—239,000 jobs were added that month, not the previously reported 257,000. December's new jobs number of 329,000 held. The average hourly wage barely budged: It rose just 3 cents from January, to $24.78. It's up 2% from a year ago, and CNN frames that: It puts the wage gains of a "healthy economy" in the 3.5% to 4.% range. CNN notes this "snail-pace" could be one of the reasons "many folks still aren't feeling better off during this recovery." (Read more jobs report stories.)