Friday’s jobs report looked good on the surface, but diving into the details we see that the 0.2-percent rate decrease is nothing to celebrate.

The national unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 5.5 percent in the month of February with the addition of 295,000 new jobs. That sounds encouraging, but 59,000 of those new jobs came from bars and restaurant, which is above the average for the sector over the past year. That’s great news for bartenders and waiters, but jobs in this sector are often less secure and have fewer benefits than jobs in other sectors. Professional and business services followed behind this sector with 51,000 jobs and retail added 32,000 positions.

Some might say that a job is a job is a job, and it is. Still, low- or mid- skill positions don’t help the average hourly wages to increase as much as we might want. Wages gained a measly 3 cents this month.

And we can’t gloss over the worst part of the jobs report: 178,000 American works resigned – not from a job but from the entire job market. The labor force participation rate, which measures the number of workers in the workforce, fell to 62.8 percent – just 0.1 percent away from a 36-year low.

Life for young people is no party in this job market. According to Generation Opportunity’s monthly jobs report for February, 14 percent of 18-29 year olds are unemployed and 1.8 million have dropped out of the job market entirely. (In full disclosure, I work for GenOpp.) And one in four young blacks is unemployed – an indicator that even if the economy is coming back, too many from my generation are left behind.

Forbes reports:

Employers added 295,000 jobs in February, according to the latest payroll report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Out Friday morning the figure is stronger than the 240,000 new jobs economists were forecasting.

Currently 148 million Americans are employed. At 8.7 million there are 1.7 million less unemployed people today than there were a year ago.

In February average hourly earnings increased by 3 cents to $24.78. This followed a 12 cent increase in January, the biggest monthly increase since November 2008. But with February’s slow down the 12-month wage growth rate ticked down to 2%. Pre-crisis annual wage growth was north of 3%.

One theory for why we are seeing this wage/job growth inconsistency is job mix.

Food service, business services, construction, health care, transportation and warehousing added jobs last month. Employment in mining was down. While the gains were widely distributed, notoriously low paying food services was by far the biggest gainer at 59,000.

Business services was the second biggest contributor to job growth adding 51,000 jobs last month, employment in the industry had risen 660,000 over the year. While this group may include high paying positions like consultants it also includes low earning jobs like custodians…

The January payroll count was revised down Friday to 239,000 after initially coming in at 257,000. The December figure was steady at plus 329,000 jobs. Total employment gains in December and January were therefore 18,000 lower than what BLS previously reported.

The economy is on a slow, apparently steady path that appears to be hovering just above the ground. It’s not crashing but not soaring either and the job market (as a lagging indicator) confirms that.

Each month we look for positive news out of the labor market as encouragement. However, when we consider that our labor force is shrinking each month and the jobs being produced are far from long-term, stable positions upon which workers can build a career or raise a family, we have a structural problem. Throwing more taxpayer money at the economy won’t solve it. We need lower taxes and relaxed regulation that causes the costs of doing business to fall. That can free up money for reinvestment in business, hiring, and workers raises.

Until we see long-term policymaking that encourages the private market, our economy will hobble along on the back of a weak labor force.