WASHINGTON, May 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy added 244,000 jobs in April but the nation's unemployment rate rose to 9 percent, the U.S. Labor Department reported Friday.
As total non-farm payroll employment rose by 244,000, the private sector added 268,000 jobs, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a release.
The number of unemployed persons was 13.7 million in April, nudging the unemployment rate from 8.8 percent in March to 9 percent last month, data indicated.
"Today we found out that we added another 268,000 private sector jobs in April," President Obama said during a visit to a transmission manufacturer in Indianapolis. "So that means over the past 14 months, just in a little bit over a year, we've added more than 2 million jobs in the private sector."
He noted the employment bump came while the economy "has been facing some serious headwinds," such as high gas prices, and disasters and unrest around the world.
"So there are always going to be some ups and downs like these as we come out of a recession," Obama said. "And there will undoubtedly be some more challenges ahead. But the fact is that we are still making progress, and that proves how resilient the American economy is, and how resilient the American worker is, and that we can take a hit and we can keep on going forward."
Austan Goolsbee, Council of Economic Advisers chairman, said in a blog Friday's report indicated April showed "the strongest monthly growth in five years."
And, despite high energy costs and disruptions from the nuclear disaster in Japan, "the last three months of private job gains have been the strongest in five years," Goolsbee said.
"While the solid pace of employment growth in recent months is encouraging, faster growth is needed to replace the jobs lost in the downturn," he said. "We are seeing signs that the initiatives put in place by [the Obama] administration … are creating the conditions for companies to add new jobs and foster the industries of the future."
In April, employment in retail trade rose by 57,000, while professional and business services added 51,000 jobs, the Labor Department said. Employment in both state government and local government lost jobs in non-education segments.
The department said it revised figures upward for total non-farm payroll employment for February from 194,000 to 235,000 and for March from 216,000 to 221,000 added jobs.
Goolsbee cautioned against reading too much into one monthly report.
"The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years, but there will surely be bumps in the road ahead," he said. "The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision."