The U.S. created a robust 295,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 5.5% from 5.7%, but wage growth remained sluggish and more people dropped out of the labor force, the government said Friday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a gain of 238,000 nonfarm jobs. Average hourly wages rose 3 cents to $24.78, but the 12-month increase was a lackluster 2%. Employment gains for January and December were little changed. The government said 239,000 new jobs were created in January, down from 257,000. December's gain was unchanged at 329,000.
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