The U.S. unemployment rate dipped in March to its lowest level in two years, and President Barack Obama hailed the "good news."
The Labor Department says 8.8 percent of the U.S. work force was unemployed in March. That is one-tenth of a percent lower than in February, and a full point below its level in November.
President Obama said Friday the economy is making strong gains in creating jobs. "Our economy is showing signs of real strength. Today, we learned that we added 230,000 private sector jobs last month. And that is good news," he said.
At a parcel shipping company near Washington, Mr. Obama said the new, lower jobless numbers are an encouraging sign that an economic recovery is under way.
"That makes 1.8 million private sector jobs created in the last 13 months," he said. "And the unemployment rate has now fallen a full point in the last four months. And the last time that happened was during the recovery in 1984."
The president acknowledged that millions of Americans are still looking for jobs, and he pledged to work harder to restore the jobs lost in the recession.
Mr. Obama said his campaign to reduce America’s dependence on imported oil will help to continue the momentum of the economic recovery, partially by creating jobs in the clean-energy economy.
On Wednesday, the president announced his energy policy, including efforts to cut U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025.
The president called Friday for the U.S. government’s fleet of more than 600,000 vehicles to consist entirely of fuel-efficient cars and trucks within the next few years.
"We have already doubled the number of federal cars and trucks that are hybrids, and I am directing our departments and agencies to make sure 100 percent of the vehicles they buy are fuel-efficient or clean-energy cars or trucks by 2015," he said.
Mr. Obama announced a program in which the government will assist corporations which replace their gasoline-powered vehicles with those that run on alternative energy sources.
The president also said he is encouraged by the progress of budget talks between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Despite warnings about a possible government shutdown if an agreement is not reached, Mr. Obama said the leaders of both parties agreed on how much spending should be cut. He said details remain to be worked out, but a compromise is within reach.