In a development that is likely to buoy the Obama White House's election prospects in November, the U.S. economy's unemployment rate continued its slow but steady declining trend, inching down from 8.2 per cent in March to 8.1 per cent in April.

Announcing the monthly data release, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) noted that non-farm payroll employment rose by 1.15 lakh in April, yet it described the unemployment rate for the month as “little changed.” At the macro level, employment increased in professional and business services, retail trade, and health care, but declined in transportation and warehousing, the BLS added.

Although the number of unemployed persons remained worryingly high at 12.5 million, the White House struck a cautiously positive note about the data.

Alan Krueger, Chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, said “Today's employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but much more remains to be done to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and the deep recession.”

While Mr. Krueger emphasised that private employer payrolls increased by 1.30 lakh jobs in April and the unemployment rate had fallen by one percentage point, from 9.1 in August, the BLS cautioned that the civilian labour force participation rate declined in April to 63.6 per cent.

Criticising the Obama administration's job creation policies, Patrick Knudsen of the conservative Heritage Foundation said that dumping taxpayer money into projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 “simply moves resources from one place to another.”

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