US President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package has created or saved more than 640,000 jobs since it was enacted earlier this year, the White House said on Friday.

The numbers indicated the US was on track to create 3.5 million new jobs by next year through government spending on infrastructure projects, education, health care and green technology, spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

But the new jobs have yet to dampen the high unemployment rate, which still stands at 9.8 percent — the highest in more than 25 years. The White House numbers were based on stimulus spending through September.

That has left the White House having to defend the massive stimulus measure. The package was passed in February and cost taxpayers $787 billion.

The job figures followed an announcement by the commerce department on Thursday that the economy grew a surprising 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009, likely showing an end to the worst recession in the US in decades. The third quarter ended Sep 30.

The annualised gross domestic product (GDP) rate was higher than the 3.2 percent that economists predicted for the summer months.

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