02/03/2012 09:48 am ET Updated Apr 04, 2012

White House's Alan Krueger: Recent Job Growth An 'Encouraging Sign'

WASHINGTON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - January U.S. jobs data shows the economy continues to heal, top White House economist Alan Krueger said on Friday, stressing the importance of extending a payroll tax cut and unemployment aid over the rest of 2012 to help maintain this momentum.

"The trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign," Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said in a statement.

Data released earlier on Friday showed U.S. unemployment dipped to 8.3 percent in January and the economy created new jobs at the fastest pace in nine months, in welcome news for President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election later this year.

(Reporting By Alister Bull; Editing by Vicki Allen)