7 Apr 2012

Slight drop in US unemployment rate

7:47 am on 7 April 2012

Unemployment in the United States has edged down to 8.2%, though analysts remain cautious about the prospects for a sustained economic recovery.

Most of the drop is thought to be because many people stopped looking for work.

The March figure - the lowest for three years - came despite fewer jobs being created than in recent months.

Analysts had predicted a fourth straight month with job growth of more than 200,000.

Although employment has been rising for the past six months, the jobless rate has been stuck above 8% since early 2009.

The BBC reports that while US companies have hired 850,000 new workers since December - the best run in two years - the sustainability of the recovery still remains a concern.

However Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has recently warned that the pace of growth seen in recent months would need sustained consumer spending in order to continue.

President Barack Obama welcomed the figures, though warned there is more to be done.

"Our economy has now created more than four million private sector jobs over the past two years; more than 600,000 in the past three months alone, but it's clear to every American there will still be ups and downs along the way, and that we've got a lot more work to do."

The BBC reports that President Obama's electoral prospects are widely seen as linked to the economy and the jobs market.