The Labor Department reported Friday that American employers added 295,000 jobs in February, beating consensus forecasts and sending the unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent in January.
Economists had expected the report to show that the economy added 230,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate ticking down to 5.6 percent.
While the headline numbers proved better than expected, other data pointed to persistent challenges confronting the economy. The labor force participation rate remained mostly unchanged, with 178,000 people leaving the labor market. Meanwhile, average hourly earnings increased just two percent over the year. Though Democrats have touted the country's recovery from the Great Recession, progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have highlighted stagnant wages and called for robust government action to boost worker pay.