The U.S. economy created 248,000 new jobs in May, more than expected, and good news for the Bush administration, in an election year.

The figures from the Labor Department confirm that the fast-growing U.S. economy is now creating jobs at a rapid pace. In the three-month period ending in May, just under one million jobs were created. That's the fastest pace of job growth in four years.

Treasury Secretary John Snow says the jobs that are being created are of high quality, and are increasingly occurring in the hard-pressed manufacturing sector.

?I think we're creating a lot of good jobs. It's interesting to see how the manufacturing jobs are coming back. And the revisions to the prior months in manufacturing and in other areas,? he said.

Mr. Snow spoke on Bloomberg television.

While jobs are being created at a rapid pace, the jobless rate held steady at 5.6 percent (because of growth in the labor force).

Equity prices rose sharply on the jobs report. Increasing numbers of economists say the strong job growth increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise short-term interest rates at its meeting June 30. Market-determined interest rates have already risen significantly from the 48-year lows that prevailed until the last few months.

Commerce Secretary Donald Evans is optimistic that job growth and economic growth will persist, even in the face of sharply higher oil prices.

?I don't see these somewhat higher oil prices having any serious negative impact on our economy. Our economy is simply not as dependent on energy as we were a number of decades ago.?

Oil prices have recently retreated from their record highs of over $42 a barrel.