The U.S. economy created 290,000 jobs in April, the most in any month in the past four years. U.S. President Barack Obama says the Labor Department's latest employment numbers are an encouraging sign.
President Obama says the U.S. economy has come a very long way since he took office early last year.
"We now know that the economy has been growing for the better part of a year, and this steady growth is starting to give businesses the confidence to expand and to hire new people," said President Obama.
While April was the fourth straight month that the economy has had a net gain in jobs, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.9 percent, from 9.7 percent in March.
The Labor Department says more than 800,000 people who had given up looking for work are trying again, and Mr. Obama says that is also a good sign.
"Given the strength of these job numbers, this may seem contradictory, but this increase is largely a reflection of the fact that workers who had dropped out of the workforce entirely are now seeking jobs again, encouraged by better prospects," said Mr. Obama.
Opposition Republicans blame the Obama administration for an unemployment rate they say is unacceptably high. A statement from Republican Congressman Mike Pence says the Democrats' "policies of taxing, spending and bailouts are having a chilling effect on job creators across the country."
15.3 million Americans were unemployed in April. The president acknowledges that putting them back to work will take time.
"Over the course of this recession, more than 8 million jobs were lost," said the president. "So there are a lot of people out there who are still experiencing real hardship. We have got to be mindful that today's job numbers, while welcome, leave us with a lot of work to do. It is going to take time to achieve the strong and sustained job growth that is necessary."
Analysts do not expect hiring to increase enough in the coming months to bring the jobless rate down significantly.
But the experts say the high number of jobs added last month shows that businesses are feeling more confident in the U.S. economic recovery.
Factory production increased in April at the fastest pace in almost six years, and consumer spending was up in March by the largest amount in five months.