The nation's employers added 290,000 jobs to their payrolls in April, the biggest increase in four years and a massive boost for the country's battered labor market.
With revisions to past reports released today, for the first time since December 2007 the nation has experienced job growth for four straight months, welcome news for a country that has lost nearly 8 million jobs since the recession started.
But it is also welcome news for the White House and Democrats in Congress hoping to hang onto their own jobs with elections coming up this fall.
Obama said that the news today was "particularly heartening" when you consider the state of the American economy just one year ago.
"There are a lot of people out there who are still experiencing real hardship and we've got to be mindful that today's job numbers, while welcome, leave us with a lot of work to do. It's going to take time to achieve the strong and sustained job growth that is necessary," the president said today at the White House.
"We've got a ways to go, but we've also come a very long way, and we can see that the difficult, and at times unpopular, steps that we've taken over the past year are making a difference," he said.
The president's comments today are the latest reflection of his administration's slow-and-steady approach to job growth -- touting the modest improvements but also stressing that there is a long way to go before there is reason for celebration.
"We're adding to payrolls and have added 573,000 payroll jobs in the first four months of 2010, the vast majority in the private sector. That's a good sign and further confirmation that the Recovery Act and Financial Stability Program are having their intended effects," said Alan Krueger, chief economist and assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury Department.
Krueger added, "The unemployment rate is hovering just under 10 percent which is unacceptably high, but there are signs that underlying job market forces are moving in the right direction."
In addition to April's stronger-than-expected jobs report, one need look back no further than the month before the Obama administration took office to see signs of progress.
On Friday Dec. 5, 2008, White House economic adviser Christina Romer was pulled out of a meeting to brief then President-elect Obama on the half million jobs lost in November.
"I am so sorry," Romer told Obama. "The numbers are just horrible." Replied Obama, "It's not your fault -- yet."
Today, the jobs picture is far better, but at the same time still dire for millions of Americans. Despite the 290,000 jobs added in April, the nation's unemployment rate increased to 9.9 percent during the month, the result of the growing size of the labor force.
There had been encouraging indications in recent weeks that April's report would be a strong one.
In the first three months of this year, the nation's economy grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent, the third straight month of growth. Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity, increased by 3.6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest boost in three years.
Analysts had predicted growth of around 190,000 jobs in April, but today's report far exceeded expectations.
While Romer acknowledged in a speech in Cleveland this week that "the economy still has a very long way to go," she said, "We are unquestionably on the right trajectory."