WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. employers added 223,000 jobs in April, a solid gain that suggests that the economy may be recovering after stumbling at the start of the year.

The job growth helped lower the unemployment rate to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent in March, the Labor Department said Friday. That is the lowest rate since May 2008, six months into the Great Recession.

The level of hiring signaled that companies were confident enough in their outlook last month to fill positions. The job growth, if sustained, could fuel an economic rebound after a January-March quarter in which the U.S. economy is thought to have shrunk.

Still, Friday's figures included signs of concern: A weak March job gain was revised sharply down to just 85,000 from 126,000. In the past three months, employers have added 191,000 positions, a decent gain but well below last year's average of 260,000.

And the job growth isn't raising worker pay much. Average hourly wages rose just 3 cents in April to $24.87. Wages have risen 2.2 percent over the past 12 months, roughly the same sluggish pace of the past six years.