A surge of new hires in February underscored the confidence and resilience of U.S. businesses that are adding new workers at the fastest pace in the past 17 years. However, the strong gains in jobs did little to increase last month’s wages.

In all, 295,000 new jobs were added by employers in the U.S., the 12th consecutive month of job gains above 200,000 said the government on Friday. The unemployment rate dropped from 5.7% to 5.5% during the month as well.

However, the rate fell for the most part, because some people who were out of work stopped searching for jobs and therefore no longer are considered in the unemployment count.

The average wage per hour was up 3 cents to $24.77 per hour. The average pay per hour has increased only 2% during the last 12 months, barely beating out the inflation rate.

Still over the same time more than 3.3 million American have jobs. With more jobs and lower prices of gas, many consumers have increased their spending. That has boosted the economy and offset the sluggish growth in the overseas markets and given employers confidence to keep hiring.

Most analysts forecast that the U.S. economy will grow 3% in 2015, which supports about 250,000 new jobs per month. The increases should help raise pay sometime this year, said on Wall Street analyst.

The figures on Friday provided additional evidence that the U.S. labor market is in a rapid recovery mode, with growth in employment strong enough to more than keep the unemployment rate trending downward

With the unemployment rate at 5.5% it has reached the Federal Reserve’s top range that is consistent with an economy that is healthy. That might make the Fed more willing to raise the interest rates in June from their record lows.

Following the release of the jobs report, investors sold U.S. Treasuries, which is a sign that many are anticipating a hike by the Fed. Investors also were selling stocks as the Dow Jones plunged by 261 points during morning trading.